by Mairghread Scott, Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews
With the first issue of Toil and Trouble, readers were shown a piece of the Macbeth story that is absent from the original work. The focus of this book remains with the weird sisters, and Scott advances the tale forward in issue two, with events beginning to overlap the classic play. Scott’s writing in the second issue showcases just how this work can not only run parallel to the source material, but even find ways to enhance it and add many more layers.
Almost seamlessly, the book opens right where it left in the heat of battle. Without knowledge or request, Macbeth has been fused with the spirit of Smertae as she attempts to fend off the foreign army and keep him alive. Throughout the sequence, the Matthews sisters provide some great moments of art, depicting Smertae herself wielding the sword in battle, and using wonderful colors. Additionally, throughout this sequence as well as in other places across the issue, Scott uses narration text, mostly from the perspective of Smertae. Scott’s voice for Smertae is fantastic, and it really energizes the segments. While many books can suffer from frequent narration, Scott’s writing finds a balance such that this element truly enriches the book in its development of the characters, as well as provides additional space to enhance and grow this universe.
Over the course of the first half of this issue, the story also jumps to interactions with the other two sisters. Cait realizes what Smertae has done and Riata learns of Macbeth’s survival soon after. Scott has such a fantastic handle on the voices of each of these characters. In just over a single issue, there are incredibly distinct differences in how Scott depicts each of the three sisters. While the overlapping of their actions with the plot of the original play makes for intriguing storytelling, the most exciting and impressive dimension is how these characters interact. Writers who are capable of presenting dilemmas with enough grey to distort or withhold any sense of objectivity as to who is trustworthy can make the experience of reading the story so much more engaging. Here, Scott presents the dilemma from both Riata’s perspective as well as Smertae’s. Though Smertae is the main character of the story, this dynamic is incredibly well handled. Through to the conclusion of the issue, this aspect of the book has an impact on the events.
As the issue moves towards its conclusion, the story depicts the prophesy by the weird sisters that opens the original play. It is one of many fantastic representations of how dynamic Kelly and Nichole Matthews can be as artists. The art style throughout the book is fluid and bright. In certain points of the story, the line work may shift, or the color palette may change in a way to support the plot events. Not only is the flashback sequence a great example of this art shift that enhances the story, but the prophecy sequence is really magnificent. The layouts and color shift here highlight the climactic nature of the scene so well and makes for a remarkable page.
The book is just dancing on the edge of the chaos that lies ahead and it has already managed to be incredibly captivating. As Toil and Trouble moves into the major events of the source material it is bound to get even more thrilling.