Comics

Review: Toil & Trouble #2

Toil & Trouble #2, written by Mairghread Scott, main cover by Kyla Vanderklugt, Archaia 2015 Toil & Trouble #2

Mairghread Scott (script), Kelly & Nichole Matthews (art & colors), Warren Montgomery (letters), Kyla Vanderklugt (cover)
Archaia
October 7, 2015
Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers and is based on an advanced review copy from Boom/Archaia.

Join me for a review of issue #2 of Mairghread Scott and Kelly and Nichole Matthew’s adaptation of the bard’s curse-ridden “Scottish play.”

I was excited to jump back into the rich mythology of this universe, which is always an enjoyable feeling when reviewing a comic. The first issue gave me a taste of what to anticipate, and this issue delivered on art, storytelling, and scale.

In this issue, Smartae faces off against sister Riata over her actions towards Macbeth while sister Cait continues to attempt to play mediator. The interaction among the three gives the reader some more characterization of the witches. Specifically, Cait begins to show herself as more than the mere “middle child.” The question still lingers: are the witches subject to the prophecy, or do they shape the actual fate of Scotland? On her blog, Scott calls them Fates, which makes sense as Fate has often been represented as three women who work together. 

Toil & Trouble #2, written by Mairghread Scott, drawn by Kelly and Nichole Matthews, Archaia 2015

Page 7 from Toil & Trouble #2, script by Mairghread Scott, art by Kelly and Nichole Matthews.

In my review of the first issue, I critiqued the wordiness of the comic that at some points seemed in competition, rather than in sync with, the artwork. I have no such complaint for this issue. The drama and epic scale of issue #2 creates space for breathtaking artwork. The way the three weird sisters are depicted and their differing facial expressions speaks to their individual, and often clashing, personalities. I am particularly besotted by how the dismissive expressions of Riata convey her ruthlessness. The transformations of the witches and their familiars and the way in which their magic is depicted is, well, magical. It’s fantastically beautiful without being cliche. Danger and power is present, but I do think the violence could be amped up. I say this not to condone violence, but because when representing war, I am of the general opinion that the consequences should be clear. Plus, the contrast of the violence of war with the lovely, soft representation of the witches would create a striking juxtaposition.  

As for the story, this issue flowed seamlessly as opposed to the first issue, which felt stilted at some points. Turns out I have been a wee bit wrong in calling this a prequel. While the first two issues are prequels to the play, it looks like issue #3 will actually be overlapping with the events in Macbeth as told via the perspective of the weird sisters. Though at some points during my reading, it did feel like one may need to refresh their knowledge of the source (you can find the entire play here, and there’s always Sparknotes). While this doesn’t seem absolutely necessary, it does seem that reading or rereading the play would improve one’s appreciation of what Scott and the Matthews sisters are doing with this comic. While shifting the focus to the witches and looking at power from their perspective, the comic still addresses one of the central themes of Macbeth: power corrupts. Considering this focus, I am very eager to see how Lady Macbeth will be depicted. She is my favorite thing about the Scottish play.

You may not care for Shakespeare, but the this comic is worth reading, particularly for anyone interested in fantasy, epic storytelling, and Celtic mythology.