by Mairghread Scott, Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews
How do you tell a story within a story that previously existed? That is what the creators of Toil and Trouble set out to do with this miniseries. Taking on the vantage point of the Weird Sisters of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, the tale sought to add a new layer to the literary classic. Following an amazingly climactic fifth chapter, the final issue looks to resolve the story and connect the final piece between this new tale and the original work. As has been the case throughout, the book’s creators amaze with their ability to strike a perspective so compelling and nuanced amidst a plot, which readers already know.
Having succeeded in defeating her sister, Smertae was unable to intercede and Macbeth was overcome with desire and vengeance. The twisted games the sisters have played throughout the series claim yet another life. Scott has done truly fabulous work with the script, allowing readers to forget the truths of Macbeth’s story, becoming wrapped up in the narration and will of Smertae to save Macbeth. In many ways, a large portion of this issue work to walk readers through the ensuing moments of the play, adding flavor to the scenes with the inclusion of the sisters at each major story element. Still, Smertae’s narration and her resolve to let fate step in despite her wishes make even the moments plucked from the play exciting to witness. There is a weight to the script in this issue as Smertae gives in to what she fought so hard to prevent. And with every scene revisited, the story finds intriguing ways to color what readers previously knew. At no point does the book transition into an abbreviated version of the source material.
The Matthews sisters are impressive once more. Not only is the script wonderfully crafted, but also every sequence in this final issue is enhanced through the art. The distress on Smertae’s face as she gives into the forces of nature creates another dimension of tragedy to the plot. Later, when Lady Macbeth is overcome with guilt about her actions, there is a beautiful moment between she and he lost son. The setting fades away, placing the two characters against a white background. Though the reader may have known the reality of the sequence, this visual depiction is striking. That is a constant for this issue, as Kelly and Nichole present some wonderful pages. Swirling layouts, symbolic imagery of the spirits that plague Macbeth and his wife, and the somber soft blues detailing Smertae’s history push this final issue beyond expectations.
In an unlikely twist, a moment comes when the three sisters, at odds from the very beginning, join together to bring about an end to the chaos they had incited. While each had their own role at one point, and seemed to fight for different values, the protectors of Alba are united in the tales resolution. This final piece of the story cements the brilliance of the creators. Toil and Trouble is an unexpected work of art. The last chapter holds as well made as those that came before it. Never would anyone have thought such a tale could come out of this premise. And yet, it is able to exist within the original framework, and may even enhance it.