This issue opens with Soren presenting the first actual threat of the series to Owen.
In the physical matchups so far, our tanky protagonist unleashed his axe and made quick work of any adversaries, but Soren presents a different type of challenge.
First of all, he doesn’t really want to kill her, having decided maybe not all witches are bad after hearing her backstory in the tavern last issue. And second of all, her magic isn’t really something he can slice his way out of. The fake out of him almost dying would be convincing, but we already know that Moreci has big plans for this series next year. That gives Owen quite a bit more plot armor than we’d normally expect for a final issue, and as expected this resolves pretty quickly. It is really interesting getting to see a variety of Soren’s powers in this issue, leaving me wondering just how strong she is.
From there, the energy of the comics picks up and we get the full force of the action comic we were promised. The trio slash through the bad guys in their path on their way out of the crumbling castle. Nathan Gooden’s art and Addison Duke’s colors really shine here. Instead of feeling repetitive as they hack up their adversaries, they mix it up with variations in color, design, and the relative sizes of their opponents to keep it fresh.
This issue hits a lot of the same nostalgic notes as your favorite pop-culture adventurer stories: Buffy, Indiana Jones, The Legend of Zelda, or any of the Final Fantasy games. A big boss battle happens, and just as it seems like all is over, there’s a big reveal that the boss is actually a bigger boss! And also, the heroes have to hurry because everything is falling apart; they have to fight their way out of the dungeon as it collapses behind them! All of this happens while we get a lot of montages of the characters just destroying everything in their path in a really satisfying way while neatly wrapping up the story and teasing the next arc.
The series as a whole is in a really good place going into 2022. We have a strong cast of characters, really great art, hints at meaningful character development to come, and solid writing that understands and leans into its genre. I look forward to the second arc!