"Eyes Without A Face, Part II of II"
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Pencils: Jim Muniz
Inks: Jim Royal
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN
As Alicia finds her mind has cleared for the first time since she was taken captive by her stepfather, we see her investigate the compound and she quickly discovers the horrifying truth about her stepfather's efforts to restore her sight. As she frees Sue, we see the two women locked themselves inside the Puppet Master's studio, where Alicia uses her sculpting talents to bring the Puppet Master's rampage to a violent end.
There are elements in this issue that I enjoyed a great deal, from the opening bit of narration where Alicia thinks back on happier times that she's had with her stepfather, to the moment of indecision that crossed Alicia's mind as she rescued Sue. However, for the most part this issue comes across as a step backwards, as the opening chapter set the stage for an intense psychological horror, and this issue takes that same premise and downgrades it to a rather stupid slasher film. I mean if nothing else having the Puppet Master chasing Alicia and Sue around his compound with an axe, raving like a demented mad man is out of character, and while the issue tries to offer up an explanation that his continual exposure to the radioactive clay was making him mentally unstable, the simple fact of the matter is the Puppet Master has never been presented as a physical threat, so offering him up as crazed loony with an axe simply isn't nearly as effective as his normal method of operation. The issue also offers up a rather silly climax as it asks us to accept that not only was Alicia able to make that highly detailed clay sculpture in the time available, but she was also able to do so with the distraction of a crazed lunatic smashing in the door with an axe. One also has to wonder why Alicia decided to perform such violent attack against her stepfather, when she could've simply made him drop the axe, and adopt a pose that would render him harmless. Now making him turn the axe on himself makes for a dramatic finish, but again it's poorly justified when one considers the past behaviour of these characters.
Jim Muniz work is steadily improving by the issue, and while I still have some problems with elements of his art, such as the lack of background details, I have to say this issue his art does shows a decided improvement when it comes to it's delivery of the facial expressions, as the Puppet Master's enraged state is well presented, as is the sense of calm on Alicia face as she's sculpting the clay figurine of her stepfather. The art also offers up some cute little details, such as the fact that one of the Puppet Master's guard dogs bears an uncanny resemblance to the Little Rascals' mutt. However, the most important element of the issue, is that the story is told in a clear, easy to follow manner, and while there are moments where I felt the art could've conveyed a greater sense of urgency, it managed to avoid any moments of confusion. Plus, the big impact scene where Alicia uses the puppet she's made to attack her stepfather is really quite effective, thanks in large part to the art.
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