by Jennifer M. Contino

Reviews might contain information that could be considered 'spoilers'. Readers should proceed at their own risk.

Mephisto and the Empty Box
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Writer: Jason Hall
Artist: Matt Kindt

Did the magnificent Mephisto's magic box really make a young bride disappear? Right in the middle of a magician's showstopper trick, a jealous rival kills him and then himself before the magician can make the bride "reappear". Distraught, her groom practices for eight years trying to master the trick and make her reappear. Will the new Mephisto be able to make his bride return from the empty box?

Mephisto And The Empty Box is a fantastic story from beginning to end. The cover is striking and one that makes you take notice of the work. It's reminiscent of an old black board all drawn over in chalk and really a striking piece of design. The haunting, eerie cover makes the work stand out and just begs the casual passer-by to peruse the work. It also serves to set the stage for the rest of the comic. The layouts and design of this comic were top notch. The story itself is just freaky cool. I mean how would you feel? A young married couple, out enjoying a show, and then suddenly the magical trick goes awry and your bride is gone. The magician made her disappear and before he could bring her back, he's killed and the only other person who might be able to make her return commits suicide. What would you do? Is she really gone? What happens next? These "what if" type questions that Hall and Kindt answer are almost like a bridge between The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

I felt so bad for the groom. If his bride had escaped out the other side of the box and gone on the lam, then he spent eight years of his life trying to bring her back for nothing for something that he never could have achieved. However, if she really were "elsewhere" due to the box, then I feel even worse for the guy who devoted all he was to bringing her back. Hall is really skilled at getting the average reader involved in this tale and really experiencing empathy for his characters. He's a fantastic writer with a real solid ear for dialogue no matter what the time period is.

Kindt's artwork also seemed very appropriate for the time period and the mood of the story. It reminded me of a "pulp" or other Golden Age magazine type offering. His use of shadows was also very well done in this issue. I also liked the layout and design of each page. Kindt is a very gifted artist and I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of his unique style before too long.

Top Shelf Productions

Sequential Tart, 1998 - 2001