The ladies take center stage this issue, in defense of the village of Little Spring which is under siege by the forces of Morgain LeFay and Mordred.  Exoristos, guilt-stricken over her sending a young girl to her death, lunges head-first into battle, unconcerned with her own safety.  Madame Xanadu, now aged, realizes that she can correct things, but only by performing a horrible feat, which she is ultimately unable to bring herself to accomplish.  The Horsewoman rallies all horses in the area and leads many of them to their deaths in a direct assault on a fleet of mechanical dragons.  Exoristos is struck down and engineer Al Jabr is only barely able to talk Etrigan the Demon into rescuing her.  Xanadu hatches a plan which may save them, but that is not to Etrigan’s liking.  Another supporting character perishes, while the attacking hordes burst through.  Now comes the the final battle!

This is a team book comprised of mostly brand new characters, or established characters being utilized in new ways, so yes, it is going to take a while to introduce them all and flesh them out.  (Issue #1, #4.)  However, it was good to see the action ramped up this issue, leading into next issue’s big battle!  Seven issues is a long time to stretch out an initial storyline, but with such a large, unproven cast, I think writer Paul Cornell approached it the correct way and took the time to showcase them all to a different degree.  You aren’t going to care if a new character that you know nothing about is injured or dies in combat, but now that these characters are more rounded out, the stakes are higher.  Heck, the few supporting character deaths so far have been so well set-up that they really shocked when they occurred!  But I do admit, I’ll be glad to see the epic final battle and outcome!

Regular penciller Diogenes Neves gets a helping hand from Robson Rocha, who illustrates the Horselady’s sequences.  I prefer Neves’ style, but Rocha’s work is fine as well.  He renders the giant mechanical dragons quite well, so he was a perfect pick for that particular plot thread!  Neves’ style is quite detailed and a little stylized, but overall quite nice.  His rendering of Exoristos’ assault really packed a wallop!  Very well done, to both!

This is an off-beat book, which I know won’t appeal to everyone.  It’s set during Arthurian times and features a largely unknown cast.  But that aside, if you’re looking for something a bit off-beat, but that still retains the characterization, action and drama of your typical superhero team book, this one is worth a look.  We’re six issues in, with one more to go in the first storyline, so if you haven’t tried this book out, maybe grab the trade.  You may find yourself pleasantly surprised!

Verdict: Borrow

Written by Paul Cornell
Pencils by Diogenes Neves and Robson Rocha
Cover by Michael Choi