If she is ever backed into a corner … never underestimate the Guardian.
Writer: Dave Franchini
Artwork: Eman Casallos
Colors: Jorge Cortes
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Skye’s trip to the realm of Oz has been anything but welcoming. Now, in the grasp of the deadly Scarab Queen, all hope looks to be lost. Does the guardian of the realms have enough fight left in her to turn the tide of a dire situation, or will her search for the artifacts of Camelot be cut short along with her life?
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Skye has finally found a clue to the next piece of the armor, however her new friend Edith had one condition for the information – find her lost husband Erol. As the two continue their way down the Yellow Brick Road and the Bogger woman continues to call her Long Legs much to her irritation, a constant bombardment of questions begins to break down the Guardian’s resistance in becoming too close to this small bother. But as she listens to the constant chatter a sudden crack from the surrounding trees alerts Mathers to a coming problem, raising Edith under her arm the pair are barely able to avoid being crushed by the falling timber. Even as she complains about being touched the Bogger does not realize the danger they are in and is swept up once again as more of the woodland comes crashing down. It does not take long until they are herded into an ominous wall with a crude helmeted skull carved into its face and swiftly surrounded by muscular purple warriors, but as Skye is about to strike back Edith notices a familiar hat tucked into one their belts – it belongs to Erol. Stopping her long legged friend from attacking she assures the Guardian these are the ones who took her husband, so if they wish to know where he is they have only one option … surrender.
However as they are taken back to the camp the pair are immediately subjugated to the will of a pompous queen, with the object of Skye’s quest lying innocently at the foot of her throne. She wastes no time in ordering the execution of the intruders but Mathers makes a counterproposal – kill her but spare the Bogger since she knows the secrets behind the powerful armor and location of the last piece. The ruler sees wisdom in this information and grants the request, sending Edith to reunite with her husband within an underground chamber and questions why the prisoner still has her head. Following orders the executioner raises his axe but it too late as Skye magically burns through her bindings and quickly knocks the giant unconscious with a stunning uppercut. Even as she yells out orders no one can obey promptly enough as the Guardian makes quick work of her men, but this former captive is soon surprised as the queen retaliates via the strength of the lost armor. With all three pieces joined does even Skye stand a chance against this formidable woman or is this the end of the search and any chance of help for Shang?
It has been some time since we have been able to enjoy an issue without some villain’s vile machinations interfering with the relationships of the story and writer Dave Franchini splendidly presents Skye and Edith enjoying each others company until the inevitable happens. While we may miss schemes and underhanded dealings causing trouble for the Guardian, it is primally satisfying to see the queen of the Skarabs have them ambushed and almost instantly put to the executioner’s axe. Of course Skye would not be herself if she did not always think a few steps ahead by using her brains and not always brute force to outmaneuver opponents, thus giving readers a revitalizing breath of fresh air to the staleness of straightforward fights. However when she is confronted with an obligatory necessity for any good story Mathers does not allow herself to be restrained by the nobility of constructed rules of melee conduct, instead allowing the most effective methods of combat to guide her toward winning, even if that means bending civility to strike when her opponent’s head is turned if it is to her advantage. Although this would make most cringe to see such callousness come from a heroine, you cannot but have a silent chuckle and grin from her reaction knowing the reasoning was simple and appreciative, all as she adds to the tense situation with a questionable quip. And yet as the event comes to a close one cannot but miss the complications of complexities to hide unenviable goals of the foe of the day, all while knowing they will interfere with Skye’s agenda to save Shang – even if unintentionally, while making our Guardian all the more presentable and virtuous to those who may stand in her way to save the day.
While this supposedly lighthearted issue does begin with a dark opening, one cannot deny Eman Casallos knows how to construct an enticing panorama of illustrative excellence by controlling the emotional premise of the page, allowing the reader to question how Skye ended up like this and only wanting to pursue the story even further. And yet even within this grimacing image it is the solidly impactful array of Jorge Cortes’ colors which control the fierceness of the actors, allowing each to display their own unique role within the perverse play. Through a masterful manipulation of light versus the subtlies of the palette we have a display which controls the eye to transition each panel effortlessly, all as Casallos gives us a depiction of the Guardian which fully enthralls us within her beauty and those wondrously Long Legs. However one cannot but smile at her coy glances and while we may be intimidated by the clearly defined purple muscles and the pompous gaze of the queen, loyal readers know Skye is never without a plan as we watch her explode within a dance of action. But after seeing the supremely captivating and intimidating rendition of the Skarab Queen with her lavender skin cloaked with golden and wondrously encased within an explosive display, one cannot but question who will win the day, even if we know subconsciously it is always our redoubtable heroine.
With a refreshing escape from the vile plans of villains it is a delight to see Skye display her kind hearted nature and help someone who truly needs her strength to find a lost loved one all as we watch the Grimm Fairy Tales version of a buddy story. The strength of the artistic team helps to draw the audience within the narrative, allowing readers to become engrossed by the helplessness of being prisoners and thereafter the thrill of fighting for freedom and vanquishing a self serving foe. While we know the triteness of a new foe may be forthcoming, the opportunity to escape from this simplicity is worthwhile and gives us a noteworthy chance of basal satisfaction before returning to the tedium of convoluted wickedness.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: September 25, 2019