The issue picks up with the sisterly reunion continuing in the attic. While Phoebe, Piper and Prue/Pat look in the book for an idea of what's going on, Paige orbs to a frozen Henry. She talks at him, in a deeply emotional way, despite the fact he's completely frozen.
Meanwhile, Leo attempts to fend off Rennek, but the darklighter has the magical upper hand, and admits to being behind the machinations that led Paige to find Prue. Paige orbs back to the manor, everyone hugs, and they realize they need to contain their magic, which is still out of control. It's also happening at Magic School, where they've put a sleeping spell on the kids, but Leo is gone, and Piper can't scry for him. As it turns out, Rennek wants to get the magical information out of Leo's subconscious, since he's been a whitelighter, elder and Avatar, and he has a creepy helper to do it.
Back in the manor, the sisters decide to have Phoebe work some spells, Paige make some potions and Piper and Prue head to the front line. While Prue and Piper are on the attack, Paige is in the kitchen questioning if, with Prue back, she's really still part of "the Power of Three".
Phoebe is studying the book when Cole visits in the attic. He admits to having made mistakes during their relationship. apologizes, and Phoebe accepts. Prue and Piper arrive back in need of new ideas, and Paige has one: strip her of her powers. She says it's the only way to get the Power of Three back in check, and it'll give her a normal life with Henry. With some helpful encouragement from Cole, Prue intervenes and says she should be the one to have her powers stripped. It's Paige's time to shine and Prue's time to let go.
She does, and the sisters find Leo, who is nearly unconscious, and Rennek's ally is dead. They all go back to the manor, where Prue helps Piper put the front door back on while Leo recuperates (and they still don't know what Rennek did to him). Cole and Phoebe say their final goodbyes, as Cole agrees to go back to Salem with Prue and help new witches. As he leaves, he gives Phoebe one final message: she's pregnant. Prue says her goodbye, and Piper tells her to leave the door open. While that's happening, Rennek looks on from the bushes.
This was the third major story arc in the ongoing Charmed series, and it leaves a couple of big plot threads lingering at the end -- not that that's a bad thing.
Obviously the Prue story is wrapped up for now, but it's left open enough that this isn't necessarily the last we're going to see of her, or Cole, in this series. I thought everything that happened with her, and her interactions with her sisters, was very natural, and felt totally like what could've happened in the TV series had it continued.
The Rennek story is the biggest loose thread, and the final page even had a "Not The End" box. There was a lot left unshown regarding Leo and Rennek in this issue, and while I expected that, the transition from the attic scene and the stripping of the powers to the Charmed Ones rescuing Leo to ending up back at the manor was REALLY abrupt -- hell, that whole swing of events took place on three pages.
There's also Phoebe's previously unmentioned pregnancy (and, if she's only a month along, she probably didn't know about it until Cole said something) and the Paige/Henry drama to be dealt with. I liked this issue planting the seeds for those -- and the Henry thing has really been going on since early in the second arc. It makes the series feel more like an ongoing, rather than a series of trade arcs.
Lastly, I wanted to note a great exchange on the very first page of the issue. The book opens with a scene between Prue and Phoebe discussing the latter's use of the name Prudence for her daughter. Prue says to Phoebe, "you always hated me" and Phoebe responds, "I never hated you." Obviously this works for the characters in general, but it also seems to be a little shout out to the off-screen drama between Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty at the end of Season 3.
There's a lot of talking scenes in this issue, which aren't Dean Kotz's strong suit, but he continues to improve with likenesses with each passing issue. I think I see more of Ivan Sergei in his Henry than I have at any previous point in the series. There's also a Cole/Belthazor split face image that just looks really damn cool.
As for the three sisters who have likeness work involved, I thought Paige looked best, followed by Piper, then Phoebe. I think the Phoebe likeness was actually hurt by her outfit, which just didn't look like something Phoebe would wear.
There's some recurring imagery of hands in this issue, touching each other or objects or just in general close-ups, and I think it shows that when given the time and opportunity, Kotz can really make details work.
The David Seidman cover features a shattered picture of Piper, Phoebe and Paige in front of a mirror where the shadow of a demon lurks. The picture and the broken glass almost look photorealistic, while the demon seems to hint more at things to come in future issues. Overall, another great cover in a series of them.
This was a very good issue that brought a solid close to the primary Vol. 3 story arc without closing things off. The art was pleasing to look at, though the issue was light on action, and the story moved well for something that was so conversation focused. I did think the ending was a little rushed (to the point that I flipped back to see if I'd missed a page), but not so much so that it ruins the overall storytelling flow.
Score: 4 out of 5
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