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The Infernal Devices: Clock Work Princess Vol. #03 Manga Review

5 min read
The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess Vol. #3
The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess Vol. #3

Tessa finds her place in the world, and who she will stand with in it.

Creative Staff
Story: Cassandra Clare
Art/Adaptation: HyeKyung Baek

What They Say
The threat of Mortmain’s Infernal Devices looms as the Shadowhunters race to work out a way to counteract the mechanical monsters. Meanwhile, plans for Tessa’s marriage to Jem are underway, despite her fiancé’s failing health and the unresolved feelings between her and Will. When Tessa is captured, Will must leave his comrade behind to save the woman they both love… But with the final missing piece-Tessa herself-in Mortmain’s possession, can anything stop his plot for revenge?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Young adult supernatural romances are all the rage these days, inescapable and ubiquitous.  There is going to be a certain level of cheese involved in any of these stories, no matter how self-serious they are.  When condensed down to a graphic novel, all of those more embarrassing bits are pushed closer together and become far more apparent.  That’s what happens in this final volume of The Infernal Devices manga adaptation.

How do you cut a 600 page novel down to it’s essence without loosing something in the process?  Well, the first thing to go is the pacing.  The second is the secondary character development.  The third is the logic in scene design, apparently, because that’s the most unfortunate problem with this final volume.

The story picks back up tying up some loose ends from the previous volume.  Will’s sister had arrived and has no intention of returning home and every intention of becoming a shadowhunter.  The patriarch of the Lightwood family succumbs to his demon plague and transforms into a monster which has to be put down.  Everyone at the London institute scrambles to the aid of the two Lightwood sons, including Tessa in her wedding dress.  Yes, she decides to run off to fight a monster in a wedding dress rather than change out of it.

There are about three major battles over the course of this volume, and none of them are well paneled.  Scenes and characters jump from one location to the next and the action is nearly impossible to logically follow.  The artist’s strength is in characters and scenery, but when you throw movement into that it all falls apart.  It makes the characters look terrible at their jobs of monster hunters, and isn’t convincing at all.  I had been hoping the action would get better over the course of the series, not worse.

The aftermath of the demon snake battle results in the major subplot of the volume, the feud between the Consul and Charlotte and the role the Lightwood brothers play in all of it.  The Consul is a misogynist who wants nothing more than to have Charlotte out of her position of power.  To that end he tries to get the two boys to report to him on her activities.  Gideon and Gabriel go back and forth on what’s more important to them, family or their duty as shadowhunters.  The book does a good job keeping the reader guessing as to whose side the brothers will be on.

Tessa’s background is fully explained, as is the motivation for the cartoony Mortmain, but none of that ends up mattering much.  After a series of stupid decisions and blundering by the lead cast, Tessa manages to take down Mortmain in what is a genuinely smart use of her power.  Of course this happens after she was kidnapped by the villain, which takes a bite out of the leads ability to do anything but be a burden.

All of that takes a back seat to the struggles of love.  Jem is dying and the drug that he relies on to survive is in short supply.  Tessa suggests that Jem take a supernatural approach to extended his life, but he declines.  Meanwhile, Will has stopped being a total jerk once he realized his curse wasn’t real and spends most of the volume trying to save both his brother-in-arms and Tessa.  The turnabout comes a bit too late for me to start liking him as a character.  Tessa however, is more than happy to embrace Will once it appears that no one is going to get out of the bad situation alive.  (How convenient this bed just appeared out of nowhere!  Apocalypse sex anyone?)

I have a feeling that many of the problems facing this story would have been lessened in prose form.  Here it’s tropes swimming in a cup rather than a pool, development that likely existed was cut for time leaving jarring swings in mood and tone.

The ending is both bittersweet and a copout at the same time.  There’s definitely a hint of hooking up side characters for the hell of it.  In the end Tessa really doesn’t have to choose one boy or the other, her decision is made for her.  Her very nature means that she’ll likely outlive anyone she does end up with, and she even gets her second chance to live with the one who was left out.  Tessa gets to have her cake and eat it too, whether she deserves it or not.

In Summary
The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess closes out this manga adaptation with this volume.  Something was gonna give out in adapting a nearly 600 page prose novel to a 275 page graphic novel, and give it did.  It suffers as a standalone work from the get go, with action scenes taking the brunt of the confusion when that should be a visual work’s strong point.  With no prior emotional investment in the main characters I find them insufferable, and while the side characters are strong they get little page time.  Fans of the original series will no doubt enjoy seeing their beloved characters mess around in picture form, but this is a digest version of the story at best.

Content Grade: C
Art Grade: B –
Packaging Grade: B +

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
MSRP: $24.55