Arana #10

Background

Felix Jade is a Mexican drug power with the power to bend men's minds! He's been invited to a conference for crimelords hosted by the Sisterhood of the Wasp. He's also the man who murdered Araña's mother. Calling upon the power of The Hunter, Araña went after Jade and very nearly killed him. She's calmed down now, but is more determined than ever to finish this. And our heroes have a lead....

Story Details

  Arana #10
Arc: Part 4 of 'Night of the Hunter' (1-2-3-4-5-6)
Articles: Arana

It's 7:00am and Gil Corazon is returning home after a heavy night of investigative reporting. Anya's father is not happy. He's on the phone to a contact in the police. He tipped them off that Felix Jade was arriving in town and he can't believe the police let him slip through their fingers. Inside, Gil finds Anya asleep on the sofa (recovering from last night's excitement, no doubt). Gil hurries his daughter to get ready for school, but something in his voice and his actions make Anya suspect that he knows Jade is in New York.

After scoring the winning goal in an after-school hockey match, Anya heads back to grab her bag and discovers Amun waiting for her. He wants to know what is driving Anya, who she is trying to avenge. Anya won't have anything to do with him at first - after all, he is an assassin and cannot be trusted. But Amun swears on his father's grave that it is not his intention to make their conflict personal. It's a nicely written little scene, and Anya opens up to Amun and begins to tell him her life story.

She explains that Jade was the head of a drug cartel operating in Mexico City. He seemed to own everything and everyone. When a group of children were killed in a gun-fight between rival cartels, Anya's father determined to take Jade down. When threats wouldn't dissuade Gil, Jade burned down the Corazon family home resulting in the death of Anya's mother. Realising that he couldn't win, Gil travelled to New York with six-year old Anya. Now she is old enough, Anya is ready to continue her father's work and destroy Felix Jade once and for all.

Amun listens to this story patiently. One can imagine that he is no stranger to revenge, and truly understands Anya's position. However, Anya is interrupted by a telephone call from Miguel. He, Ted and Nina has found the location where Vincent and Jade teleported the previous evening. Miguel suspects that the pair are still somewhere in the area, and Ted thinks he can trace them through the radios they are using. Miguel heads off to pick up Anya.

Anya arrives home to find her father on the telephone to Dan Stevens; it is obvious he is discussing Jade. Anya needs to head off with Miguel and comes up with a feeble excuse of a Webcorps corporate retreat. However, Gil is anxious to get Anya out of the city and away from a possible encounter with Jade. He jumps at the opportunity and practically packs her bag for her in his hurry to get her to safety.

On the way out, Anya drops a bombshell and asks her father what he would do if he ever encountered Felix Jade. She hides the question behind a school project she has to do, but Gil answers truthfully. He might want to see Jade dead for what he did to Sophia, but he would never kill him. Turning Jade over to face justice at the hands of the courts would be an example to others. It may not be what he would want, he may not be able to live with it but it is what Sophia Corazon would have wanted and that is more than enough for Gil.

At their safehouse, Vincent telephones the Wasp operative Sam to arrange transportation to another safe location. Little does he realise that making such a call will lead Ted and the others to him. However, Vincent has a problem: Jade says he won't run, and when Vincent tries to convince him otherwise he puts the magical whammy on the mage. He thinks Vincent has insulted his honour and his intelligence by insisting he run from Webcorps. He has no use for Vincent and commands him to leave. This Vincent duly does, leaving Jade and a few dozen Wasps in Black at the safehouse. Jade now waits. He knows Araña and the others will come. He has special powers he has never revealed to anyone. He will use them to crush all who oppose him.

The Webcorps crew roar up to the safe-house. While Nina occupies the Wasps outside, Araña and Miguel head inside to deal with Jade. They fight their way upstairs, while Nina and Ted hurry in. Ted activates his frequency distortion device that should stop Jade from exercising any more of his Jedi mind tricks.

Araña kicks down the door and confronts Felix Jade. Before they begin he wants to know who Araña is, and who sent her. Araña says that he should consider her as the manifestation of his just desserts. To which she adds: "And I was sent by Sophia Corazon."

General Comments

Well, this is certainly an improvement over last issue. We still have two inkers, but there's only one person behind the pencils. Unfortunately, this person is Francis Portella who seems to have taken over the art chores from Roger Cruz. This is not a good fit. Whereas the styles of Roger Cruz and his predecessor (Mark Brooks) are largely indistinguishable, Portella's art is very different. This isn't such a problem in the monthly comic, but it is going to be an uncomfortable switch half way through the trade paperback.

Portella's art is also wholly inferior to the work previously presented in this title. It has a rough, almost unfinished look to it that I don't think works particularly well. It's competent and he's certainly conveying the story - having Anya and Amun's heads in silhouette in front of Anya's flashback as if they were at a movie is a nice touch - but he's not really setting the world on fire. On the whole, it is disappointing.

The plot, however, is not disappointing. In this issue, Fiona Avery goes back to the relationship between Anya and Amun and the comic benefits greatly from this. The last time these two had a conversation was back in issue #6, and I had high hopes back them that something would come of that. This is the first hint that Avery is willing to take the pair forward. Amun's actions and motivations are extremely interesting, and we have a hint of his back story that I hope will eventually be developed. It is a shame there wasn't more of this.

The scenes with Gil Corazon are also well written, although I miss the way he was drawn by Brooks and Cruz. Portella's Gil looks a little young to me. The script here is crisp, and Gil's insistence that Anya leave the city shows, not only how much he cares for his daughter, but also how serious a threat he still believes Jade to be.

Ted's techie-talk also brought a smile from me. I haven't a clue what he was actually talking about, but it definitely seemed in character. Even Nina's one liners had a certain pith to them. On the whole Araña is a well- written little comic this month. Shame about the art.

Overall Rating

After last month's atrocious effort the story is picking up again. Some very good character moments (especially between Amun and Anya) encourages me to give it a high rating, but the art drags it back down to average. Three webs.