The covers: Beneath the blue hologram of a witch stands the title character, his hand outstretched to hold at bay the various technologically enhanced centipede-like tentacles that seek to grasp him. He has a smug smile on his face, showing readers he’s barely concerned with the threats about. The image on this Main cover is by Trevor McCarthy and it’s pretty slick. I’m fairly familiar with this character’s pre-New 52 stories and I’m semi-interested in him, but his cover convinced me to pick it up. It’s hard not to give a good grade to an illustrator that can bring this out in a potential reader. The Variant cover is by Frazer Irving with one of the rulers of the Necropolitan Club screaming as he (it?) holds our title character’s head. Klarion has an odd look on his face, perhaps because he’s being brain drained? I like the look of the antagonist that’s got him, but Klarion looks really funky and out of place in this image. Overall grade: Main A+ and Variant B-
The story: I was really happy to see that Ann Nocenti was writing this book. I thrilled to her writing when she was doing a little ditty for Marvel titled Longshot (Yes, I am that old), so I was hoping to see her work the same kind of twisted, fun, strange, adventures with Klarion. She was a good choice for this book. This is a strange trip for a strange character and I enjoyed this. From somewhere in the Multiverse, Klarion decided to leave his teachers, after an “incident,” and hitches a ride with Beelzebub in his sweet car, that would make the Winchester brothers jealous, to Earth. His driver tells him to go to the Moody Museum for a place to lie low. Once alone he stumbles upon two bullies beating up smaller prey. Using his natural abilities, Klarion convinces the pair to leave, gaining the friendship of Rasp, who lives at the Moody Museum, and off they go. This is a fairly simple start to the story, but Nocenti pushes the childhood drama aside for the introduction of this issue’s antagonists, the rulers of the Necropolitan Club. What are their ultimate goals? That’s not clear at the moment, but it’s obviously not good. At the Moody Museum Klarion is introduced to Piper and Noah, who have their own plans, which, again, are unclear, but they obviously want to assist their tenants, young people with magical abilities. This pair and their setting seem so full of mystery and promise, the book could have been set entirely at that location and I would have been ecstatic. However, the Necropolitan Club has a draw for the lead and “things” happen there. What happened at the club was predictable, but Nocenti hasn’t shown Klarion in action there yet, and the tantalizing bits that come out of Piper and Noah have me looking forward to the story’s next issue. Overall grade: B+
The art: There are visuals that readers can fall into welcomingly by Trevor McCarthy, and others that just needed some more clarity. The opening five pages promised a lot of the oddness that I wanted from this book. The journey that Klarion and Beelzebub make in the demon’s car is striking and just wonderful to look at. However, once solo, the book’s layout never captures that hyper unreality of the opening. There’s still a lot to like. McCarthy obviously loves to draw Piper because every panel she’s in she is the focus, no matter how devilish the protagonist is. The rulers of the Necropolitan Club look horrific, as if Clive Barker had designed them, and that’s a compliment! They look amazing and are threatening even if they’re just around each other. As good as these characters are, there are many scenes in this book that are just unclear, and because of that lose all magic. Pages 6 and 7 look cluttered and the line work is very thick, making them look rushed compared to the earlier, and later, thin line work. Every image of Rasp looks unfinished, and his later persona is just a suggestion of a figure. I was disappointed with this character completely. The book starts out visual strong but then starts and stops with mediocrity. Overall grade: C-
The colors: Not helping the visuals are the colors. Now this might be due to the artwork of McCarthy, but some brighter colors would have made the images much clearer. Again, the opening pages look great in the Multiverse, but once on Earth, Guy Major is overdosing the book on purples and browns. I would have killed for a scene lit with normal light, which occurs all too briefly on Page 16. The greens for the Necropolitan Club are outstanding, but they only make the rest of the book seem dim, dark, and indistinguishable. Overall grade: D+
The letters: Narration, title and credits, dialogue, sounds, excellent Necro-speak, an invitation, and scene settings show Pat Brosseau doing a lot to make his contributions stand out, and they do. Overall grade: A
The final line: An interesting story with visuals too dark to see. I expected better. This won’t last long looking like this. Overall grade: C
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.