Seraph’s Sanctions: THE CIRCLE #3

Writer: Damon Clark
Art: Alyzia Zherno
Color: Alyzia Zherno
Letterer: Zen
Publisher: ACTION LAB: DANGER ZONE (February 2o17)


The Breakdown:
Christian gets a sit down with both his father and the principal of his school after the beating he took last issue. Christian, like many teens growing up over the years, does not tell either of them that he knew who beat him up. Meanwhile, Christian has been avoiding just about everybody as he is faced the the specters of the pact he made with the others. The others have been wanting him to come back to the fold … and actually need him to come back to the fold. As Phoebe convinces Christian to come back, they have another dark ritual …that Christian isn’t really for and there is no turning back at this point as Christian is horrified by the truth and the Circle isn’t going to let him go.

The Bad:
…I see … dead people … nope … nothing bad here.

The Moment of the Issue:

There’s definitely two of them. First, it is the reveal of the ritual so they can finish getting their powers which includes what happened after the first time they performed it. And second … the ending.


The Good:

Zherno’s moody and atmospheric art is at its best there. Zherno creates a great balance of the mundane and the mystical, as the school scenes look and feel very normal with wonderful tones and lighter colors while the scenes of the ritual and everything after are a bit darker, using darker blues, blacks and reds depending on the panels. Zherno does some wonderful perspective panels this issue that really help bring out the best of her work. Slanted shots. Overhead panel work. It all helps create the tone and suspense. And the sheer horror of Christian finding out what he had done … even unwillingly … was capture well at his anger and terror.

Clark writes his best issue yet here. One of the best things about this book is how authentic he captures teenagers. Sometimes, they feel a bit too cliche is other books and there are some cliches here, but Clark pulls off teenager characterization perfectly. Christian might have his head set on straight now, but all he wanted to do was to fit in and, because it cost him, he freaked out and shunned everyone in return. Also, not telling adult figures the truth about him being beaten up is also a very teenager thing that is often done.
Clark really shines with creating the right amount of tension while progressing the story. To be honest, there were a few shocks this issue. The revelation that Christian had indeed killed someone after the first ritual was definitely not a complete shocker, but still shocking given the characterization that we have seen with Christian. Secondly, the overall build up to the moment in the cave with the second ritual was pretty low key. To the point that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Clark didn’t reveal that anyone died for sure until this issue and when Daniel says we have to kill again, my heart dropped to the floor. Sure, it looks like what they might have done last issue, but Zherno’s art didn’t give us a picture of that completely and didn’t know it if was a side effect of the initial ritual. The other surprise about it is how blatant it is seen this issue. Daniel just says it. Besides those scenes, there is no mention what to do for this other ritual. Clark pens a wonderful script that after that surprise, readers are treated to one final cliffhanger that might change everything. Christian has been cursed and even a little corrupted, but he’s been a pretty level headed teen for the majority of the story. It is revelation at the end of the issue that will shape the finale which Clark knew would get readers gripping on the edge like they were gripping to the slide of a cliff with one hand. Also, kudos to Clark to giving the rest of the Circle a bit more personality this issue. Sure, this is Christian’s story, but it is still refreshing to see some solid characterization from the others as well.

The Verdict:

The Circle # 3 beings the rapid, violent rollercoaster to its finale. Zherno puts readers under her spell with her unique style and wonderful presentation as the suspenseful & horrific tone and mood really allow readers to be captivated by it. Clark’s script are full of sharp dialogue, solid character developement, intrigue and horror which allows readers to feel terrified for different reasons throughout the books. Surviving your teens is hard enough and now Clark throws magic in the mix to make things even crazier. With mysteries being revealed, the final confrontation is coming and Clark builds it all up like a wonderfully thoughtful, moody cult classic movie.