Ash & Thorn #2 – Review
The second issue of Mariah McCourt and Soo Lee’s remix of vampires and slayers sets a number of plot pieces into place. As I wrote in my review of the first issue of the Ash and Thorn comic, you already more or less know the story, so the fun lies in where McCourt and Lee take a left turn from the expected. Issue 2 is all about setting up the plot now that we’ve met the main players. To me, it feels a bit more rushed than the first installment.
Before I get into the plot, I’ll add that one of my favorite features of the comic are the recipes and short (written) stories at the end of the book. Chris Eddleman’s “The Fairy” made me take a breather at the end — but that has more to do with my personal hangups. Rakeem Nelson’s “This Story Is All About You” is less speculative and more a reminder of how we are all interconnected. Since they’re both a few pages long, I won’t say more about their respective plots. This appears to be a feature of all AHOY Comics.
Lottie Stands Alone
Like the first issue, we open on Lottie and Peruvia training. Well, training in theory — more like bickering. Lottie’s not as spry as Peruvia would like her to be and quits training for the night with a flourish. It’s also quickly apparent that Peruvia’s book-learning is not equal to her experience as a Guardian.
Lottie takes her nightly walk and stumbles across a construction site that has seemingly sprung out of nowhere — and appears to be hiding a Hellmou — Rip like the one we saw the demons emerging from last issue. She uses her age to her advantage and poses as a confused old woman in an attempt to get some answers. It’s a proposed community center — and Lottie is determined to attend the next town meeting to learn more about the mysterious development.
Peruvia huffs off to the Guardians’ dimension when she realizes how useless her books and manuals are. There, she meets Pickle, a little blue fairy serving as the Guardians’ answering machine. According to Pickle, the Guardians have already given up on Lottie’s reality and have moved on. Peruvia calls bull and takes Pickle back to Lottie’s dimension, where he gorges himself on Lottie’s baking.
At the town meeting, Lottie confronts Mr. Court, the developer. She tells Peruvia that her Champion instincts suggest something is off, but Peruvia dismisses her. This confrontation is the first time where Lottie’s Southern black identity come up, something I was curious about from the jump. We’ve seen that Lottie can use both her age and her experience as assets, but I’d like to learn more about her life experience and to see if McCourt will explore these dynamics in a deeper way.
Meanwhile, Lottie’s…friend? Neighbor? Teacher?…Sarah stops by while they’re out and is kidnapped by demons who think she’s the champion. Now it’s up to Lottie to face off against the enemy to rescue Sarah.
A Stepping Stone to Something Larger
The writing felt a bit clunky here, and so did Lee’s linework. The issue overall felt rushed, but I have such a deep appreciation for the ways Lee brings out weight and perspective in her shading.
Overall, this issue introduced us to the rest of the chess pieces but it felt like the story still hasn’t quite started. With only three more issues in the series, we’ll see how the pacing works out, but I felt I didn’t gain much more understanding of the characters or their relationships. I’m hoping that becomes more solid now that we’ll see more interactions between them.