Review: TOIL AND TROUBLE #1

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TOIL AND TROUBLE #1
Written by Mairghread Scott
Art by Kelly and Nichole Matthews
Published by BOOM! Studios
Release Date: September 2, 2015

We’ve all heard the tale of the curse of Macbeth. Perhaps you were forced to read the Shakespearian play in your high school humanities class, or maybe you sought out the wicked world on your own. Regardless, take what you know about Macbeth and enter the world of Toil and Trouble, written by Mairghread Scott and illustrated by Kelly and Nicole Matthews.

This mini-series is quite different from much of BOOM!’s current lineup, focused in a Celtic world, following the three witches of Macbeth. Smertae, Riata, and Cait curse and spell their way through this first issue, forcing fate’s hand in the would-be King Malcolm’s favor, thwarting armies and maiming soldiers. Smertae, the story’s narrator is clearly conflicted with what she has to do, and has made a pretty bold decision by issue’s end.

I want to preface by saying that I’m not typically a fan of fantasy or Shakespearian stories, so I may be a bit biased when I say I had a hard time keeping up with this issue. The plot was a bit muddied at time, and I found myself lost in the art at the expense of the story. So let’s start there. Kelly and Nichole Matthews provide some extremely beautiful art. The characters and scenery are soft and gentle, making this book a true pleasure to look at. Each of the witches are captivating in their design and depiction, and the colors are vivid.

This first issue grabs hold of the Celtic tone and runs with it, gorgeously propelling the reader through this twisty tale. The detail on each page is rendered with great care, and the backdrops are truly wonderful. The colors add lush textures to the art, and my biggest complaint is about the pages with heavy lighting, as it washed out the colors some times. I recognize that bright lighting would likely have that effect, but it made it difficult to focus on the characters at time. However, the energetic portrayals of the characters make it easy to dive right back in.

With that being said, I think the art is capable of doing more of the “showing” for this series. Panels often had heavy amounts of text and narration, and while they weren’t completely unnecessary, I feel the art could have potentially stood alone at times. I generally enjoyed the action provided by our main cast, and Mairghread Scott’s writing flowed really well. She clearly understands this culture and this setting, making the book feel essentially authentic.

However, the plot was sometimes hard to trace, and dialogue was a little stiff at times, and I hope the characters get a bit more development as the story progresses. None of these things make the book unreadable, and overall, this was an interesting story to follow.

Coming from someone who doesn’t read a lot of fiction in this vein, I still found something delightful about this introductory issue. This is a world where a lot is possible, both in terms of subject matter and story-telling devices. Scott, Matthews, and Matthews are clearly a capable creative team, and I’ve no doubt that this story is something many will find enjoyable, right down to its final page.

The Verdict: 8.0/10

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