Zenescope Entertainment 2021
Written by Brian Hawkins
Illustrated by Donny Hadiwidjaja, Allan Otero, Eman Sasallos
Coloured by Maxflan Araujo, Jorge Cortes, Walter Pereyra
Lettered by Kurt Hathaway
Legend has it that long ago a coven of witches and warlocks sought to perform a ritual that would grant them immeasurable power and eternal life for a cost. But this cost was not fully understood, and those who performed it were forever held between the veil of our world and eternity, cursed to watch the living and trapped with an insatiable hunger. They became known as the Darkwatchers!
Along the Santa Lucia Mountain Range there have been tales of beings who watch travelers from the horizon, and some said to look upon them vanish, never to be see again. These stories have been happening more frequently, and as Gretel and Calabar are making their way through this stretch of land, they are about to be pulled into something not even the nearly three-hundred year old witch hunter has come across in her life!
I have to say that I was really looking forward to this after the last Gretel story. With Brian at the helm of this I surely wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Plus the fact that it’s near 70 pages doesn’t hurt any either, this is what a Quarterly should be for in story and page length. Gretel is so conflicted as she eats the heart of the witches she defeats, gaining their speciality in the process, so how does this make her different from those she hunts? That’s the eternal question that she needs to come to a grip with and it doesn’t look like that is going to happen anytime soon. It is also part of the reason we love reading her adventures.
I am a huge fan of the way that this being told. The story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold and how the leader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The way that this is structured showcases how each encounter is meant to be seen and this highlights the skill and talent Brian has. With the character development we see and feel the concern and love within this friendship these two women have and it continues to make grow and evolve. The pacing here is sensational and as it takes us through the pages revealing the twists & turns along the way takes us on a journey most foul. The way that everything works together to create the story’s ebb & flow is amazing to me.
The interiors here are really gorgeous. You wouldn’t know that there are so many different folks responsible either when you read through this. Sure there are minor things here and there but overall nope it’s all good. I like the linework we see and how the varying weights are being utilised to bring about the detail we see is utterly marvellous. The way we see backgrounds being utilised and how they work within the composition in the panels really bring this to that exceptionally high level. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show some really wonderful eyes for storytelling. The colour work is glorious! I love seeing the neon inspired magic that we see and how we see that rendered is pure magic. The way we see the various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work showcases some real talent here.
What Brian and the art team has done here is expand Gretel’s sphere of influence even further. This is why I want to see more of her and Calabar in a more frequent manner, so the series of arcs that are perfectly by Zenescope needs to have some focus on these two. I wouldn’t mind seeing Brian stay with her either as this was incredibly well written issue so that it stands out in some great ways.