Hatred comes in many forms … and some hide many mysteries.
Writer: Ben Meares
Artwork: Sergio Ariño & Eman Casallos
Colors: Ceci de la Cruz
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
What They Say:
As Mary goes toe-to-toe with the Blacksmith, she is found asking a whole lot of questions. Who is he? Why has he been slaughtering the homeless in New Orleans? And, most importantly, why aren’t her powers working against him?
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
After finally catching up with the troubled Adam Mystere finally witnesses the urban legend that many at New Dawn scoffed as nonsense – the Blacksmith is now reality before this dumbfounded pair as they stare in surprise and horror. And while this valiant woman may attempt to save this exiled man, there is a simple problem which she must face which is difficult to accept: this pursuer’s strength is overwhelming and nothing she does seems to have any effect on this mammoth hammer wielder. With every exchange of iron maul versus soft flesh and fragile bone, the former always prevails and in the end, Mary cannot find any weakness in his defenses and yet even amid these crushing chaos, the resourceful woman glances upon a familiar triple pyramid symbol embossed upon the weapon’s head. She has seen it before and this clue drives Medina to recall two people who have been touched by the same, but if Mystere is dead there is no need to track down its meaning, so she has no other recourse than to survive. And yet as each furious blow threatens to either crush her skull or reduce more of the alleyway to rubble, there seems little chance this aggressive madman will cease his chase unless a resourceful heroine takes some desperate recourse.
With victory narrowly snatched from the jaws of defeat, Mystere and Adam retreat to relative safety within Mary’s apartment to conceal the Blacksmith’s latest victim, but even as the homeless man marvels at her security measures she must leave to learn more about their stalker. However with resources limited Medina has little choice than to return to the home of a certain paranormal hobbyist who refused to truthfully pay for her exorcism, but as she explores his library of supernatural tomes the owner in question attempts to stop his intruder with little success. Under threat of ghostly invasion and revelation of Mystere’s true identity the two reach an uneasy truce, with the sheepish man seeing little harm in helping after Mary tells him she had little choice in her heinous actions. It is only under some reticence is the history of her enemy now unveiled, the man being the murdered mate of a mournful woman named Beatrice Black … but others know her by a more remorseful moniker – the Woman in Black. The love for her husband knew no bounds and it from this misfortune which crushed her will to live without him, it grew into an obsession that eclipsed even the bond between mother and son, causing the child to be abandoned without any need for sadness or acknowledgment. There would be nothing that stopped her pursuit for the forbidden, and it was with this infatuation that lead to the abandonment of her humanity to be sacrificed for what should be deemed impossible, and yet she still chased her foul dream.
It is strange to have an opening scene in which we find Mary fighting for her life, especially after our heroine has wasted no effort to constantly remind us she has left Mystere behind, and yet as we reach the midpoint of the title it seems as if destiny has other plans for our dynamically valiant heroine. It is respectively appreciative to see writer Ben Meares present someone who tries to maintain her values of trying to leave behind the death, violence, and manipulation of her previous life and try to start anew, and while she may not completely abandon her powers by cleverly utilizing them to educate hobbyists who dabble, Medina will also not ignore the misery around her when it involves those less fortunate as they are drawn into an area which she knows all too well. In prior issues, you can see her struggle in attempts to brush off coincidences which seemed to be urban legend, but as events tempt this poor girl back into what she wished to forget, it is the morality of her conscious which not allow her to overlook suffering after witnessing what happens to Adam is obviously supernatural. But of course with any good hero which the audience as developed an emotional attachment, one cannot be worried as Mystere faces someone in which she cannot defeat, let alone a foe that her powers cannot harm. To be Gatekeeper and literally have the forces of Life and Death at her command, and yet Mary is being pummeled due to their ineffectiveness it troublesome, but at the same time she has the awareness to notice small clues which may lead to a solution – this is what makes her so remarkable even in the face of certain defeat. And yet Meares makes her gallantry all the more pronounced by reversing the stereotypical roles of hero and damsel in distress, causing the audience to be amused to see a normally dominant man being protected by a woman – all as he cowers in fear from shame and being unable to defend himself. However this is the way of Zenescope stories: present an admirable reversal in the archetypes which we thought we knew, all while presenting them in new and refreshing manners by which they are accepted and respected for the powerful women they are and expected to be within this world of fantastical possibilities.
But even as we immerse ourselves within this departure of Mary’s ideal life, one cannot deny the phenomenal power which is presented within the opening scene with such fantastic details as presented by the captivating illustrations of Sergio Ariño and Eman Casallos, and while you cannot dismiss the potential of the images it is the engrossing colors of Ceci de la Cruz which make every page such a delight to witness as she emphasizes each amazing detail with her own undeniable skill. You can clearly see this is a battle of mysticism versus brute force and while it seems one may be weaker against the other, one cannot ignore the forceful presentations of each: a towering wall of muscle wielding an iron maul against this seemingly frail woman who is portrayed with such definition of her alluring curves within a skin-tight costume, all as her hands emanate an otherworldly glow of their own indefinable strength. And yet all throughout the battle one cannot deny the intensity and determination focused upon Medina’s eyes, and they are made all the more pronounced thanks to the contrast of her calavera mask against her tanned skin which makes her expressions that much more powerful. It is the femininity of Mystere which makes the conclusion all the more striking – to see this beautiful woman bleeding and suffering, her black bodice with white skeletal detailing pronouncing her curves and yet she is dominating the Blacksmith with the ferocity of a lioness, this is sexiness and determination personified. But the thoughtful nature of Mary is so wonderfully portrayed afterwards one does not deny she cares as she is dragged back into the fight, even as we have a laugh of seeing a grown man dressed in nightcap and gown, the seriousness of the story comes back as we close with a sinister breath as the truth is revealed within all its morbidity and disguised via warm sepia tones.
As we escape the sheltered presentation of prior issues, one cannot deny it is the caring nature of Mary which is emphasized within this story and reminds us why Mystere makes such a forceful impact upon our need to watch her succeed. With her want of escaping the responsibilities of being a hero, it is pleasing to see Mystere has not forgotten the weight of her powers and how they are not a burden but a sincere chance to help those less fortunate, all as she faces the nightmare of another who wishes to force their will upon others without respect to the suffering they may cause. And with magnificent artwork and fantastic colors to emphasize each and every memorable scene, I cannot wait to see how Medina will face the future and the pain she must endure to seal the selfishness of the corrupt.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: November 06, 2019