I haven’t checked in on this series since its first issue and that is a shame, because it’s been a fascinating and beautiful little miniseries. With the end in sight, Smertae and Riata give up on subtlety and decide to settle things like witches. It’s a battle for Macbeth’s soul that’s visually and conceptually beautiful yet still connected enough to the plot of the series and the play so as not to feel indulgent. I also love where Mairghread Scott takes the essential themes of choice and destiny in this issue.
If there’s a real problem with Toil and Trouble #5 it’s that the story’s role as a shadow to Shakespeare’s tragedy robs it of some of its immediacy. Strong as the emotions are in this issue, they feel a little theoretical, a little academic. For me, that makes it an intelligent and engaging read, but theres no denying that it feels like there’s a wall between the reader and the full pathos of the story.
If Kelly and Nicole Matthews don’t come out of this series with some serious prospects there is something wrong with this industry. One of Mairghread Scott’s strengths is definitely her ability to recognize and willingness to support new and talented artists and these sisters’ work is possessed of an incredible beauty and an impressive range. The Matthews deliver harsh dramatic panels and little shots of adorable while alternating between the finely detailed and carefully colored present and a bolder, monochrome past. They also give lovely renditions of a host of animals, the likes of which could easily best many established and talented artists and, were that not enough, the page layouts are nearly as varied and all of them effective.
Toil and Trouble #5 won’t change your mind about this series, it’s a strong continuation of what came before, minor flaws included. However, if you’ve enjoyed it so far or a thoughtful Shakespearean side story sounds appealing, I’d definitely give it a read.