BLACK CLOAK #5 – Image Comics
Creative Team: Kelly Thompson , Meredith McClaren and Becca Carey
Welcome to an all-new edition of Parlay Points, the comic book review blog for the ODPH Podcast via Nerd Initiative!
For this entry, we’re diving into the fantasy murder mystery unfolding in the pages of Image Comics’ latest hit series. BLACK CLOAK #5 by Kelly Thompson , Meredith McClaren and Becca Carey brings the investigation into the death of Kiros’ royal family into uncharted territory. How will Phaedra Essex and Pax handle their latest obstacle in uncovering the truth? Let’s not wait another minute and jump into the brand-new chapter, shall we?
*** POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING ***
Black Cloaks (Kiros Law Enforcement) Phaedra Essex and Pax have been assigned to solve the murder case involving Freyal III of Sidra, the heir apparent to the royal family of Kiros. Like any high-profile case, the pressure is on the law-enforcement team to find answers. This case hits close to Essex because at one point, she was connected to Freyall. Readers saw their past play out in the last issue connecting the emotional impact this case is having on Essex.
With the city on the verge of a public meltdown, time is running out on the pair to provide closure. Other factors have come into play such as the Kiros Three (the most powerful humans on Kiros), who have a vested interest in how things play off. Even after last issue’s revelation that Freyall’s death appears to have been a suicide, there still is more to uncover with this case. Their latest lead puts them on a path to meet an unexpected figure: PHINNEAS II OF THANE, Essex’s father!
The Story Continues
This issue opens up with the Black Cloaks sitting inside the home of Phinneas. The tension is palpable as Essex is none too happy to see her dad. In contrast, Phinneas is disregarding Essex’s warning of how the Kiros Three are appearing to pin the crime on him. Essex lays out her theory that the queen is involved in Freyal’s death but it falls on deaf ears. Phinneas laughs at what is proposed and throws something back right in Essex’s face to counter. When the cloaks are ready to leave, Phinneas offers a name that might be of more service.
In the meantime, Essex is shown major revelations by her brother Devaki that further widens the gap between her and her estranged father. There’s little time to process what’s happening as Phinneas’ name turns out to be someone neither Essex or Pax want to see. The tension ramps up for readers as more clues are given that lead to more options being brought to the forefront.
What will Essex do with this new information? A course of direction is set that puts the Black Cloaks closer to the truth but at what cost? Can Essex and Pax find a way to the truth? What do they find when journeying on this new plan of attack? More questions are formed as the pair (and readers) stumble onto a vision within the final panel that adds more fuel to an already mysterious fire.
Thompson keeps taking readers deeper into the drama with this latest chapter. The family dynamic between Essex and Phinneas stood out as it showed Essex in a new light. The strain on her relationship played out, making Essex face a wide variety of emotions. There is a scene involving a painting that readers can instantly see Essex demonstrate this point. The build-up to Phinneas’s person of interest comes off big due to his nonchalant ways when getting questioned. It is at that moment, the story shifts into high gear, sending the pair into a risky situation.
The pacing moves things right along while allowing the characters to shine when the spotlight is on them. The latter half of the book doesn’t slow down as Essex and Pax make a move that could be the break they so desperately need. The closing moments throw more questions into their case and that’s never a bad thing for the reader.
McClaren and Carey keep the panels more grounded than in recent issues to drive home the emotional pull on Essex and her father. The reactions to her father’s answers added more weight to her own dealing with the case. The scene involving the painting is another example of how visually creative this series is with every issue.
The world of Kiros pops off every panel. The painting plays into showing a different side of Essex that readers will get a more complete idea of what she is feeling in dealing with this very personal case. The actions following Phinneas’s “help” swing the story into a more shadowing feel which pays off on the final moments. The final full page panel closes up events, leaving much to process as the case deepens going into its’ next phase.
FINAL POINT: 9 OUT OF 10
The crime drama of Kiros takes a small detour to address Essex’s family relationships before ramping back up into what has become an inescapable series. Thompson, McClaren and Carey continue to expose the wildly imaginative world of the Black Cloaks with superb writing and art. The series generates the high praise its’ getting for a reason. Don’t miss this issue on New Comic Book Day.
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