Deep in the Dark Ages, France, Mathilda wakes in the middle of the forest, and she cannot remember who she was before arriving there. All she knows is that she seems to trail a curse in her wake. Wherever she goes, disease of the mind and body follow. She’s branded a witch and men hunt her down and attempt to burn her, but as she has lived the last 40 years without aging, she withstands the fires used against her. Her intentions are not evil, she is not consciously causing any of these maladies, but not a soul tries to understand that until after she miraculously escapes death.
It is implied that Mathilda is in some way evil, but to the reader she is indeed the sympathetic character. While she is something super natural, she is not the conscious perpetrator of evil; it is the ordinary humans who are the ones who are monstrous. While she may have survived her initial encounter with a rabid mob, embracing her latent power to save someone who didn’t fear her and who had protected her had a more horrible outcome. This is but one fragment in a deeper tale, and truly a comment on civilization as well. We are quick to turn on what we think is evil, and we are quick to judge, when sometimes those actions bring about much more serious consequences. (Yes, I’m being a little vague, because you should read the issue!) The commentary is that ordinary man can be an even bigger evil than the evil we fear… but that there is a deeper evil still.
I think visually the biggest treat for me in this issue was the detail given to facial expressions. In the second image in this review, you can see the overbearing and ferocious hate on the man’s face as he condemns Mathilda to be burned alive. There is no hint of a second thought in his demeanor, he has the raw emotion of pure unbridled hate in his eyes, he is almost more animal than man. On the other hand, in the frame above, Mathilda’s abject terror is palpable. You never see what she is seeing, but you don’t have to in order to feel the horror she is experiencing. The palette of this issue changes from blue greens to yellow and orange, stark contrasts making the people practically jump from the pages.
Altogether this is a very solid issue. You want to sympathize with the witch and condemn the hunters. As the reader, you will want to save Mathilda from her ultimate fate but will be left wondering as to the final outcome. This is an issue that will leave you wanting more — patience, dear reader, patience! (Or go reread!)
Warnings: Violence, brief female nudity