Hemlock Issue 3 – back to the witch and her frog familiar…. now with a little hint of dark times ahead.
Hemlock Issue 3
By Josceline Fenton
Hot on the heels of me reviewing issues 1 & 2, this third issue popped through my door. But I’d already read most of the story in here, as I just couldn’t stop myself from heading online to read the Hemlock webcomic after enjoying the print comics so much…… here’s a little reminder:
“……even the 29 pages of issue 3 done so far were merely a tantalising glimpse. I want more, I want to read it as it’s meant to be, a complete chapter, in her beautiful 100+ page comics, a continuing tale but with a defined beginning, middle and end within the issue that leads onto more adventures next time. That way it’s a perfect little tale within her longer story, that way it’s hugely satisfying.”
So having the whole thing together, even a relatively short third chapter of 46 pages compared with the roughly 100 each of chapters 1 & 2, is a delight.
Having dealt with the creation of a new familiar for 800 year old witch Lumi in the first couple of issues, here we’re taking a small diversion, as her new familiar’s cousin Kolya comes to Lumi about a suspicious death….
…..and at this point you may benefit from a little catch-up…
“Hemlock is “a fairy tale set in the forests of 19th Century Scandinavia” and we’re into high fantasy stuff here…. witches, Baba Yaga, familiars, dark princes, snail houses, and lots of magic.”
Lumi the witch is magically bound to her evil husband, and needs her familiar to brew up a potion of paralysis soup (including the Hemlock of the title) to keep hubby safely unconscious for another few hundred years.
Unfortunately her new familiar came about from a little miscommunication, and instead of her old familiar Suul in the body of a young boy as planned, Lumi’s left with the young boy’s soul in the body of a frog. The young boy is of course Kolya’s cousin Tristram.
To say it’s all a bit of a mess is an understatement (the story, not the execution – Fenton has made a great comic here). Lumi turns out to be a fairly rubbish witch, her hubby is growing increasingly resistant to the potion, and the young boy Tristan is doing his best to cope with being re-animated as a frog, living with Lumi in the upper stories of a giant snail called Richmond.
Now with issue three, in walks Tristram’s cousin telling Lumi how he’s not entirely sure that Tristram’s death was of natural causes. Oh, little does he know – poor Tristram did die naturally enough after all, but that was about the last natural thing that happened to the lad.
Fenton manages to really alter the mood of Hemlock with this slight pause in the main storyline. We’ve got so used to seeing Lumi and Tristran providing comedy amongst the darker background of the storyline, that it’s refreshing to be brought back down to Earth, with Kolya’s grief and anger taking us into far more serious and thoughtful territory.
Having said that, Fenton’s not going to forget the comedy altogether….. after all this is a story with a wisecracking frog and a giant snail subletting its shell out to a terribly poor witch. So yes, the funny stuff is still there, just this issue we’re reminded just a little of the darkness behind the comedy.
It may be a half size issue, it may be a slight deviation from the main storyline, but Hemlock keeps delivering really good comic work. Fenton’s art is as delightful as when I first saw it, her line so simple, yet always effective, always attractive to see. It’s an excellent comic, and one you need to be following.
Josceline has a website and tumblr, and you can get updates of Hemlock at the Hemlock webcomic site, updates on Fridays. Issue 3 of Hemlock should be released at the next MCM London Expo (28-30th October), and you can get print copies from Josceline at conventions and shows and from her Lulu webstore.