Comic Review – Red Thorn #4

  • Writer: David Baillie
  • Artist: Meghan Hetrick
  • Colorist: Steve Oliff
  • Letterer: Todd Klein
  • Publisher: Vertigo Comics
  • Release Date: February 16, 2016

Red Thorn #4 has so much going for it that it’s ridiculous.

Last month, something about Red Thorn #3 didn’t quite click for me. Despite rereading the issue several times, it managed to remain an issue that lingered just shy of one of my favorites. What was great about the issue was that we were introduced to Tarek, another human with the blood of the divine in their veins, and saw what became of Alec back in Glasgow.

This month found me entirely enjoying Red Thorn #4.

Red Thorn #4

We open with a brief look at the history of the war that led to Thorn’s imprisonment and then slight right on through to where Isla and her new bodyguards have popped into the apartment she used to share with Alec. Things are going well with Alec and the girl that Isla drew into existence… Too well.

There’s clearly something wrong with the lady and I have a feeling that I might know what it is. If you think back, Isla didn’t just draw Alec a new girlfriend. She drew him a new her. But her power created something all too different and I just know that it’s going to end in murder and tears. (Consider how Isla’s former drawing looked right at Isla as she and The Stepping Orc left Franint behind and think about how suspicious she is.)

I love how Meghan Hetrick draws backgrounds. I mean, I love her art style and can never get enough of it, but her talents I feel really shone in the Morocco scenes. I know that from reading interviews, that there was a ton of research put into bringing Glasgow to life in the pages of Red Thorn and I wonder (and hope) that the same thing went into Morocco.

Isla and Thorn return from Morocco with Tarek alongside them and immediately, Thorn puts the kid to work.

Isla is just such a good character and she’s incredibly realistic for a character starring in her own urban fantasy series. I love her reactions to things like Thorn’s use of magic or her own abilities where she’s obviously minutes away from cursing at someone. This issue, I think shows another side to Isla that I really liked.

One of the things that’s incredibly clear about Thorn, is that he’s a user. He uses everyone that can be a little bit useful in his quests and he doesn’t really care about what happens to them. So he clearly sees Isla and Tarek not as people who deserve care and consideration, but as things that can make his life easier.

Obviously, Isla isn’t like that. She also doesn’t like that Thorn is like that. One of my favorite parts of Red Thorn #4 was how Isla spent much of her time onscreen with Tarek, protecting him. In Morocco, she gets don on his level to assure him that she’ll make sure that he’ll be able to leave the moment that he wants to. She bundles him in her jacket and keeps him close. Heck, when she senses that the environment in Thorn’s new-old castle might not be too hospitable to a couple of godbloods, she initially pulls him close.

It’s such a small thing, but I really like the care that went into Isla and fleshing her out.

I think that out of all of the interesting characters that David Baillie has created for Red Thorn, so few of them come across as trustworthy aside from Isla and Tarek. They’re all up to something and it’s not likely to be anything good. And yet, many of these characters still come across as charming within the text and they’re not giving off too many major warning signs. As much as Isla doesn’t trust Thorn, she’s still tentatively locked in to supporting him and seeing where things take her and I’ve got to assume that I feel maybe 20% of this is due to his charm. (The rest is due to him claiming to have information about her sister.)

Red Thorn #4 ends with one hell of a cliffhanger. I don’t know why I love cliffhangers in comics so much, but there’s nothing like getting to the end of a really great comic and seeing something that makes you worry about what the creative team will put your favorite characters through.

Next month I think that we’ll get to see more about what the blue-haired former-drawing is doing in Glasgow and perhaps learn a bit more about Thorn’s goals and Isla’s place in his potential empire. I’m expecting loads of drama and at least one death. Let’s hope it’s not one of our favorites!

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About the author

Zina Hutton

writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories.

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