PANTOMIME #3, out now from Mad Cave Studios, is the third issue of the crime miniseries by writer Christopher Sebela, artist David Stoll, colorist Dearbhla Kelly, and letterer Justin Birch. This issue’s story plays out in brilliant, unexpected ways, and the art continues to amaze the reader and appear well thought out.
About the issue:
Our kid thieves have been under the boot of the Manager for too long, and finally, the table is set to fire him. Can they succeed in breaking the cycle, or will the Manager make good on his promise?
One of the best things a writer can do is have their reader on the edge of their seat with each twist and turn. In this third issue, Sebela does just that. At the issue’s beginning, there is still an unsolved question hovering in the reader’s mind: Will the kids’ plan to “fire” the Manager succeed or fail terribly? And throughout the entire issue, no one knows for sure. There is always a sense of danger in the air. We get the feeling that the Manager is going to interrupt the kids and their plans at any second. Whether he does or not, you’ll have to see for yourself. But, just the fact that Sebela makes the reader feel this way is a great testament to his effective storytelling skills.
Stoll’s artwork definitely stole (pun intended) the show in Pantomime #3. His clever layout choices, expressive facial expressions, and his simply beautiful, stylish artwork are all things the reader is well familiar with. But, what catches the reader’s eye even more and improves the reading experience is how Stoll chooses not to show certain moments in this issue. A terrible incident happens in the first few pages of this comic, and to emphasize how traumatic the experience was for our main character, Haley, Stoll decides to add all-black panels that are placed in a very unorderly manner. Stoll barely shows the reader anything of what really went down. This clever use of layouts and Stoll’s choice of what to show and not to show further puts the reader in Haley’s shoes and reminds us once again that everything we see taking place is viewed through her eyes and memories.
Coloring & Lettering
Kelly continues to play with the reader’s emotions brilliantly. Every single page has a certain feeling or mood. Whether it’s sadness, a sense of danger, innocence, or happiness, Kelly manages to convey those feelings flawlessly simply by using different color palettes or color groups. Especially when the aforementioned traumatic experience plays out, Kelly colors the panels in monochromatic reds. This leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind as to what they need to feel here. Great work from Kelly.
Birch’s lettering continues to be effective and in service of the story. The balloons and captions are placed in a way that makes Pantomime #3 an easy reading experience. I’ll forever be a fan of Birch’s choice to have word balloons coming from the kids’ hands, when they’re speaking in sign language. It’s a small detail, but it makes a huge difference.
Pantomime #3 continues to be both one of the best and most criminally underrated comics on the shelves. Every creator brings their A-game here- I just wish this comic was as appreciated as it deserves to be. Strongly, wholeheartedly recommended!