Klarion #5 opens with an argument between Klarion and Zell over Klarion’s decision to consume the Swagbot he acquired last issue. By accepting the nanobot into his system, Klarion hopes to attain a power upgrade. As the enigmatic Swag notes, “Magic is nothing but a future we haven’t met yet. Pop that Swagbot, it’ll jackboot you to the next level.”
And while Klarion proceeds to chomp down on his robotic dessert, his instructors attempt to break a way out of his dimensional pocket they are all stuck in. Ultimately freed of the trap, the professors try to confront Klarion for his insolence, but they are blown off when the young witch steals the devil’s car and takes it for a joyride.
Klarion’s abrupt departure leads Zell to search for him, ultimately finding him in Beezlebub’s barbershop where he is “giving birth” to the modified nanobot. As the “infant” emerges from Klarion’s palm, the plans of Coal and the Necropolitan Club come to fruition, as an army of nanobot-hybrids launches their assault. During this development, Coal’s backstory is revealed, and one can see that the base of his actions is rooted in a problematic relationship with his father.
With the Necropolitan Club on the move, Klarion chooses to rise to the occasion and face them, challenging Coal with the fury of Nature on the Witch-Boy’s side.
As this series has developed, writer Ann Nocenti has solidified some of her take on Klarion, and the bits and pieces of sardonic humor coming from the titular witch-boy are nice touches. The supporting cast has started to come into their own as well, particularly Zell and Beezlebub.
One of Klarion‘s biggest assets has been the artwork. The work by artists Trevor McCarthy and Szymon Kudranski is sublime, as is the color work by Guy Major. There are numerous two-pages spreads in this issue that really add to the wonder of the supernatural elements, while also furthering the storytelling by maintaining an energetic flow.
Unfortunately, Klarion #5 suffers from some of the same story-telling problems as its predecessors. There’s a distinct lack of tension, and often times it feels like the book is going through the motions without getting its readers to invest in the characters. Admittedly that’s hard to do when a series is getting cut short, but one can’t escape the feeling that the book never lived up to its own ambitions.
An example of this is in Coal’s backstory, delivered here in a single page. This development feels like it should have received more focus, allowing the reader to empathize with the antagonist. Instead, it simply appears, an awkward interlude near the climax of the issue.
Klarion #5 is one of the better issues in this short-lived series. Klarion’s mischievous personality shines through and the artwork gorgeously drives the story forward. Unfortunately, the stakes in the story aren’t clicking quite the way they should, and the story feels flat for it.