“Exorsisters” #4 is Boothby at his best, with the right balance of humor as we start to see the sisters’ world unraveling and sinister high stakes come into play. Spoilers ahead.
Written by Ian Boothby
Illustrated by Gisèle Lagacé
Colored by Pete Pantazis
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
Cate and Kate learn that the only thing worse than selling your soul to the Devil is selling it to someone you thought was the Devil. Can they save a soul from being saved? Also, their Mother returns, bringing the first-ever evil along with her.
Mom’s back, she’s made some seriously bad decisions and everything’s at stake in “Exorsisters” #4. After we witnessed some literal fallen angels at the end of the last issue, it’s hard to imagine how things could get worse – until Hell disappears.
With an angel disguised as a Halloween-costumed devil, a dumpster hamburger and the nicest door Kate’s ever summoned leading to an even bigger cliffhanger than issue #3, Boothby proves yet again that he knows how to structure a solid comic issue with a variety of high spots. There’s no wasted space in issue #4, with each comedic and serious vignette building toward the chaotic and unsettling whole. Kate’s cheerful dumpster-fire attitude helps fill in the space left behind by Cate’s straight-ahead take on whatever comes their way and makes room for the more melodramatic onslaught of the big bad. Boothby’s plotting and dialogue are delightful, and there’s enough action and a large enough cast of characters to balance any quippiness. Tight pacing, clever character concepts and a good deal of sympathy for the sisters help “Exorsisters” come to life, and I always personally appreciate a more unhinged look at what a hellscape would actually be. There are no navel-gazing hallucinations or nightmares on display in this book – so far, what you see is exactly what you get, and that would be some highly imaginative storytelling with excellent visuals.
What helps “Exorsisters” really land its punchlines is Lagacé’s pristine art. With a crisp, contained line and “Archie”-esque cartooning, Lagacé’s work helps lull the reader into a sense of false cheer while some seriously disturbing stuff is happening on the page. As amusing as a fallen angel in on-the-nose garb might be, it’s less amusing to watch him get his feathers ripped out by the embodiment of evil, and Lagacé portrays each moment with stunning clarity. A lot of this book takes place in some confined spaces on our physical plane, and Lagacé knows how to use various angles and choice panel details to keep the simple layouts feeling full and lively. Boothby’s storytelling style in “Exorsisters” wouldn’t work with more realistic or gritty art. The book needs the order and brightness Lagacé brings to the table, and she more than delivers.
Pantazis’s colors are great, with a lot of bold reds and other hues for the Hell scenes and some more muted, mundane palettes to help offset the girls’ striking appearances in daily life. Cate & Kate pop off the page thanks to some refined color choices, and there’s a good deal of light in this issue thanks to our erstwhile angel buddy. Pantazis works seamlessly with Lagacé’s art style to add small contrast elements in restrained interior panels and a lot of nice textures and depth when the issue gets a little, uh. Messy.
Esposito’s lettering is excellent, blending an efficient typeface with some appropriately cartoon-y sound effects when our hapless robber finds he can’t quite hold onto his ill-gotten gains. I love reading a comic when Esposito’s on the creative team, because he bring something unique to each project he touches. In the case of “Exorsisters,” it’s a typeface that’s a perfect balance between Cate’s austerity and Kate’s wackiness and, as always, perfectly readable and seamlessly blended into each page.
The creative team is in sync throughout this book, and issue #4 is no exception. No comic is perfect, but “Exorsisters” has yet to stumble through a bad issue. Each installment thus far has been solidly delightful, unique and subtly disturbing, and when you’re telling a story about demon hunters trying to stop another flavor of hellish apocalypse, that’s quite hard to pull off. There’s something here for everyone: goofy humor, wordplay, gore, teen drama and, well, demons. Boothby and team are building on well-scaffolded comic horror foundations in a very refreshing way, and I’m not sure if the book’s going to resolve itself into pure comedy or drama. Personally, I hope it keeps on toeing the line the way we’re going so far.Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.5 – “Exorsisters” #4 continues a fantastic run, with just the right balance of tight storytelling, accessible art and good craft to support all of Boothby’s dark humor and sinister portents.