When Reverend Penrose takes a holiday, and Billie has a run-in with a magic vacuum cleaner, who is left to defend the town against the merfolk? Find out in Steeple #5 from Dark Horse Comics!
Writer: John Allison
Artist: John Allison
Colorist: Sarah Stern
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 15, 2020
Previously in Steeple: New curate Billie continues to make friends and get involved in town activities – even when said activities are the annual Witchfest. Full of neighborly spirit, she volunteers and inadvertently signs in blood, even after Maggie gives her the obligatory three warnings. She delights some of the visiting witches and stays through the Sabbat until dawn. Coming home, she runs into Reverend Penrose who has also had a run-in with a visiting witch that leaves him without trousers and feeling like he needs to go on holiday. And the strait-laced Mrs. Clovis takes the broken vacuum cleaner to town – to a little shop that does spells.
THE TWIST IN THE PLOT AND THE TURN OF THE SCREW
Reverend Penrose is as good as his word. As Steeple #5 opens, he is on holiday, leaving town for the first time in twenty years. Back in Tredregyn, Billie works on her sermon while Mrs. Clovis unpacks her things and makes snide comments about them, such as her John Wick poster. But Billie has lasted a week, which is more than most of the other curates that they’ve had…and lost. Billie gives her the morning off and offers to do the vacuuming for her. Her reaction is anything but grateful.
A quick flashback to last week at the magic shop. The helpful young ladies decide to fix the vacuum with duct tape and cast a glamour on it so it looks good. But they top it off with a little extra – a spell to make Mrs. C. doubt her calling (after fifty years keeping house) and have a chance to break free. So now that spell hits Billie. The vacuum cleaner may look good, but it still doesn’t work; Billie has a moment of rebellion, and Satan manifests. I have to admit that I was not expecting this.
Maggie’s having a crisis of her own. She was called out at Witchfest for being a good person. She’s a devout Satanist, but she is also a nice person at heart. She runs into Billie and they go for coffee and a chat. This is fascinating little conversation about trying to be good, and how their decisions brought them to where they are now. Neither of them feel like know what they’re doing, and now Billie wants to get out and challenge herself even more.
And then the big twist, which I was also not expecting. Mrs. C. gets back home to find that Billie has packed up and left. As she heads out to try to stop her, she is surprised to find Maggie on the doorstep asking for sanctuary. Maggie is quitting Satanism; Billie had decided to join the Satanists. And the Mermen of Tredregyn are amassing in the graveyard!
LIVELY AND QUIRKY
The loose and breezy art style fits the young women at the center of this story. There’s great economy of line, but each character is clear, and it isn’t just in the face and outfit. The body language is solid. We see in every part of her that Billie is young, enthusiastic, and energetic, just as Mrs. Clovis is older, tired, and reluctant to change.
But they’re set against a backdrop that is full of small details that bring the world to life. From the magic shop with the esoteric items for sale to the magical spell on the vacuum cleaner there are so many fun things to look at. And the Satan scenes are unexpected and dramatic – there is a whole color shift with them that makes them pop.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT JUST A JOYFUL ROMP
Steeple #5 is full of delightful characters. Up until now, it has felt fun, one of those horror stories that also jokes about itself. But all along there has been a subtle setup to bring us to where we are now, where the horror feels more serious and the stakes may be higher than we thought.
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Magic, mermen, and a crisis of faith or two shake up the little town of Tredregyn.