Six months after the events of Issue #19, Phoebe is giving birth to her baby (Parker, a girl) in a world that is very different from the one we last saw. All mortals now have magic, including Henry and Henry Jr. (that Epilogue to Issue #19 makes more sense now), while all previously magical beings do not. The government is hunting down all non-magic users, meaning the Charmed Ones have to hide/pretend they still have powers.
The world at large looks very different, as mortals use their magic without consequence or understanding, including Mrs. Javitz, a nosy neighbor of the Charmed Ones. Elise even says all the paper is covering are magical stories.
A leprechaun shows up and explains that it's not just the Charmed Ones. All magical beings are cut off from magic, leaving him stranded while the rest of the leprechauns are on the other side of the rainbow. Coop is also unable to contact anyone at Cupid's temple.
The whole gang gathers in the manor, and decide they need to use what's available to them to solve this -- after they "fix" the manor. Elise and Henry spice up the look so it "fits in" with the rest of the street. Piper says she's convinced Rennek -- who they haven't heard from since he kidnapped Leo -- has something evil planned, but he's busy getting some sun on the beach and being fed grapes and fanned by a pair of demons.
OK, I think it goes without saying that this is the strangest, most confusing issue of "Charmed" to date. I kept waiting for the story to be some kind of premonition Phoebe was having or flash back to "how we got here", but they really just plowed ahead with the six month time jump and progressed the story from there.
The first time I read through the issue, I wasn't really able to absorb anything, because I was just confused by the time jump, so I couldn't appreciate what was going on. When I read it a second time, it made more sense and was a fun story. It just definitely requires a second read -- and will probably not make total sense until the arc is complete.
So what to make of this issue on its own? Well, once I was able to make sense of the time jump, I found myself kind of enjoying the rest of the issue. The wacky neighbor was a little over the top, and I thought some things could've moved a little faster to make more sense, overall it was solid.
What I have to keep reminding myself with a story like this is that it's the first issue of an arc. Not everything is going to make sense right away, and not every piece is going to be in place. I'm sure the vague references to what Prue has been doing will be addressed in the coming issues. As will, well, just about everything else that happened. I hope. I just can't remember ever reading a first issue of a story arc in ANY comic that was so divergent from its previous issue and raised so many questions.
While it made for confusion from a storytelling perspective, the six-month jump makes sense for pacing. While the story of how this all happened, and how the Charmed Ones adjusted to it and how the world reacted could have all made for interesting issues, but that -- and Phoebe's pregnancy -- would've gotten old quickly. Well, actually, slowly. By jumping ahead six months in the timeline, Zenescope has probably accelerated the storytelling timeline by two years. And I'm fine with that.
Dean Kotz resumes penciling duties on this issue, and once again that comes with its pros and cons. So let's break those down.
- His likeness work on the three sisters is getting much better, to the point that I can probably stop pointing it out every issue.
- The two-page spread of the street, with all the weird magical houses and flying cars and other stuff, looks really good, and I bet he had a lot of fun drawing it.
- The clothing most of the characters wear looks realistic -- hell, it's actually more sensible than what they wore on the show in the later seasons, and that makes sense, since everyone has matured by 2+ years since the end of Season 8.
- His work when a character's head or head/bust is the size of a 1/6 panel seems to be smoother than it had been in the past.
And that transitions nicely to the cons...
- When characters are smaller than that, or there are a lot of them in a panel, the loose style starts to show up more.
- The likenesses on Henry, Coop and Leo still just aren't there. Leo's easily identifiable because of his wings, but the other two just aren't right.
- This isn't on Kotz, but on the colorist, Falk: there's a coloring error on one of the last pages, where Henry's shirt suddenly changes color (it actually becomes the color of Coop's shirt, which just adds to the confusion).
Aside from the two-page spread of the street, there's nothing in the art that really blows me away this issue. Even the image of the "new" manor seems to be lacking in the kind of detail work in the windows and the gargoyles that really would have made it pop. I can't help but wonder if the issue would've been better served by slowing down the aggressive publishing schedule and giving Kotz more time to really make a page like that pop.
While the story inside is weirdly chipper despite the new status quo, the cover reflects the hidden bleakness in the Charmed Ones' new reality. A cloaked Piper, with a flightless fairy on her shoulder, holds a fading Book of Shadows. Seamus the Leprechaun has an empty pot with a colorless rainbow, and they're all joined by an incredibly sad looking unicorn. It's not my favorite cover image, but it certainly works well for the issue.
Score: 3 out of 5
PSA: This is the last "Charmed" comic review that will appear in this format. Starting with Issue #21, I'm going to move to a more streamlined review that won't take quite as much time to read or write. Because, sadly, time is not a renewable resource.
Previous Issue#19, Crossed, Triple-Crossed
The Old Witcheroo
#21, Reversal of Misfortune