Written by, Saladin Ahmed
Art by, Sami Kivela
Colors by, Jason Worde
Letters by, Jim Campbell
The issue begins with Elena in a trance, in which she sees men who have died: Samir, who she once shared a romantic connection, and, Sebastian, the urban spiritualist who previously advised her on the current case. The scene foreshadows the events to come: spirits, their connections to previous characters, both as supports and as sources of danger. For example, Sebastian gives Elena a hint for how to defeat the evil spirits and the man who controls them: She must speak to the unfreed and burn his words.
Flash to the present, Elena is tied up and seated in a chair. Bellcamp, the professor with connections to the spirit-world, is taunting her. Elena asks Bellcamp why he’s tied her up? His answer is not very convincing or compelling: because this is a fallen age of TV watchers eating TV dinners. However, his method is more interesting than his motive. Bellcamp believes in the power of the ancient words to reinstall the age-old ways. Interpreted, his sense of power and place in the world can be restored through his use of dark magic to inflict pain on others. Bellcamp seeks to punish Abbott for threatening to remove the power of his magic from him. He also senses that she is a beacon of light because of her courage and, ironically, the power of her words. Elena uses her power as a reporter to expose his dark magic and the impact it has had, killing several young and talented black men in the community.
Elena’s friends, who have been tracking her, locate her and interrupt Bellcamp’s ceremony. But it’s Wardell, the teenage employee at the dinner where Elena often visited, who lands the telling blow. Elena follows through on Sebastian’s advice hinted at earlier in the book. The result is shocking, heart-wrenching, as much as it is tender. Although this story is told within the context of dark magic, it is about beliefs. Specifically, how people’s lives have been damaged by misogyny, bigotry, sexism, and anti-gay behaviors. The show don’t tell approach culminates in the final panel which reinforces the writer’s belief in the importance of equality. The art is gorgeous throughout. The pacing of the book was brisk, almost, frantic, in this last issue. Mostly because of the great job the writer did to hook the reader and leave us on the edge of our seats. I highly recommend this book for its art, it’s progressive beliefs, and its celebration of beliefs that enrich human lives.