The third outing of Klarion makes some significant improvements over the previous issue and begins to deliver on some of the ideas that the series debuted with.
Picking up from the end of the previous issue, Klarion #3 opens with Klarion and Zell confronting Rasp about his new partner, the robotic Contessa. Initially appearing as a spider-like being, Contessa quickly takes the form of a metallic woman. Klarion is instantly distrustful and aggressive towards Contessa, and it’s this conflict that drives the plot forward. Determined to unearth the source of Contessa, Klarion and Zell track down a group of street peddlers that are selling Buddybots – robots created with the sole intent of befriending humans and being whatever they desire, whether that is a doting wife or a loyal dog.
Klarion’s suspicions are not misplaced, as readers discover that the robots are products of the Necropolitan Club and double as spies for the spindly beings that run it. Also on Klarion’s tail is Agent Lush Moody of S.H.A.D.E. Her surname suggests a connection to the Moody Museum, though nothing is concretely defined. All comes to a head in the last few pages as Klarion and Zell are cornered by an emissary of the Necropolitan Club and S.H.A.D.E. agents.
The plotting to Klarion #3 is much sharper than the previous issue. With the characters firmly established, Ann Nocenti is free to actually move them about. Klarion himself makes for a fascinating protagonist, as his prejudice against the Buddybots like Contessa makes for an unique motivator for the plot. It’s not too often that we get to see a protagonist in mainstream comics that operates out of hatred rather than hope. In addition, Nocenti does a great job of selling the Buddybots concept. These machines, seem to bring joy to those around them. In particular, a young boy who didn’t talk to anyone is able to open up to his Buddybot due to the fact that she creates a light for him to focus on. It’s a touching idea.
Trevor McCarthy’s art continues to shine. The double page spreads that take up most of the issue are a blast to look at and read as they twist about the page, adding to the supernatural feel of the book. Certain details, such as the way Klarion’s horns grow when he performs magic, really stand out this issue, making it a lot of fun to stop and enjoy the artwork. And the designs of the Buddybots are convincing enough as products people would be interested in buying.
Klarion #3 is not without its problems, however. The pacing to the issue is still off just a touch, with certain developments seemingly coming out of nowhere. In particular, the opening of the issue has a bit of jarring dialogue as it tries to move from the cliffhanger of the previous issue into the current plot. Once it gets going, though, the issue develops naturally, up until the final page. Cliffhangers and final page reveals can work well in comics, but when they seemingly come out of nowhere or don’t relate to the rest of the issue, it just creates confusion instead of anticipation.
A significant improvement over its predecessor, Klarion #3 shows more of the promise that the series debut contained. Ann Nocenti’s plotting is quite strong, driven by the sometimes malicious Klarion. And McCarthy’s artwork makes the story come to life with layouts that draw your eyes across the page and back again.