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Mystic #42

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2003
By: Olivia Woodward



Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Aaron Lopresti (p), Matt Ryan & Andy Smith (i)

Publisher: CrossGen

Synopsis:
She's had her sigil taken away. She's marooned on a savage world without magic. An angry ice dragon is chasing her. And her only ally, the genteel Yeti, has tossed her off a cliff. Giselle isn't having a good day.

In this wild and wacky issue, we return to the land of cavemen and dinosaurs, where Giselle has a vital lesson to learn. Her sigil may be gone, but does her power remain? Is she still the Mystic, regardless of her "epidermal pigment"? With the Geometer curse that keeps magic from working in Dinosaur Land still in effect and a ferocious dragon on the prowl, Giselle need to find her mojo. And she needs to find it fast.

Critique:
"What now?! You plan on choking that thing with my big, fat aaaaaaaaa!!!"

This is a fun issue. There's zany action, snappy dialogue, and screwball humor aplenty. It's got an engaging plot, with a winner of an opening sequence, and the pacing keeps the fun going. The narration is light and brick.

A major factor in the success of the story is in the handling of dialogue. Giselle and Yeti have a wacky banter that flows smoothly from action scene to parlor conversation. Yeti is an urbane straight man to Giselle's dim-witted ditz. The absurdity of this story is charming.

However, in terms of character portrayal, it's not so hot. For all the charm of this book, it's a betrayal of character. Giselle is no longer the "party girl" who mocked magic in issue #1. The days are long past, when she uttered such inanities as "At least when I confront the Masters I won't be falling out of my top" or "Sometimes when he's gassy it almost sounds like he's talking." She's no rocket scientist, but she's not a mouth-breathing moron either. ("Mouth-breathing" is an accurate description of her in this issue; her lips are constantly parted with a look of slack-jawed stupidity throughout the story.)

The "bimbo with vast cosmic powers" concept has some laugh value, but only when tempered by portraying Giselle as actually being deeper than that. This issue fails to offer greater depth to her. She's a bodacious joke, with no redeeming features beyond her eye "candy" potential.

However, the art is wonderful, capturing the lightness of the story's mood and quirks of the characters, including Giselle's total vacuous intellect. Bright colors, excellent panel construction, rich detail, and superb facial and stance expressions make this a gorgeous issue to read.

Especially noteworthy is Lopresti's dramatic technique of having figures transcend their panels. It creates a greater sense of action, as well as providing a sense of depth to the overall page composition. Figures seem to "emerge" from the page, highlighting the narrative point, from Giselle's pouting to Yeti's exasperation.

Appraisal:
"Why did I ever expect you to understand a parable? Subtext is lost on you. . ."

I liked this issue. It's fun and playful, a light-hearted read. However, there is only one issue left before this title is finished. Giselle has come a long way as a character, so it annoys me to see her totally regress to bimbo status again. She's a reluctant hero who has overcome vast odds to become the Mystic of Ciress, not only among physical threats but also against her own sense of self-worth. I don't want this title to end with bodily function humor and a silly protagonist.

Nevertheless, if you can ignore the misrepresentation of Giselle's intellect, there's a lot of fun in this issue and the artwork is fabulous.



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