Agreeing to escort Helen and Sister Marie to Fontainbleau, Agnes soon finds herself in the thick of society. What dangers like behind the masks of the masquerade? Find out in Dark Agnes #2 from Marvel!
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Luca Pizzari and Andrea Broccardo
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Mark Basso
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 4, 2020
Previously in Dark Agnes: Our title character leaps into action, dramatically saving a condemned man and friend (Etienne Villiers) from the noose and fighting off pursuers on foot and then on horseback. It is high adventure in 16th century France! Agnes and Etienne travel for a day and find an inn where the spot two female travelers, a young woman and the religious sister accompanying her. Agnes is tired after her busy day and shortly falls asleep, but a ruckus wakes her – the nun being menaced by a man. She comes to the rescue, and before long, she and Etienne have been hired on as bodyguards to the women as they travel to Fontainebleau, home of the Duke who had sentenced Etienne to death!
THE LIFE OF NOBILITY
A coach thunders through the woods as Dark Agnes #2 begins. The capable Agnes has the reins; Etienne chats with Helen and Sister Marie and suggests a destination other than Fontainbleau. But once Helen finds out Etienne has been there, she is even more excited to see court. Besides, her sister Isabel now lives there as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen.
An arrow strikes the coach and attackers are hot on their heels! Agnes loops the reins over the box and climbs to the roof, telling Etienne to take over the horses. It’s more swashbuckling fun as Agnes attacks and poor Etienne tries to clamber out and grab the reins. One of the attackers makes it into the coach, and this one is dispatched by the Sister Marie who has a knife on her person. This is a nun with hidden depths. Helen is impressed and insists that Agnes join her at court as a guest.
There are more names to be dropped at court. Agnes, not happy about having to wear a dress, runs into an old friend (Francoise). From her they learn the Duke D’Alencon is not back quite yet. But his buddy Renault de Valence is here. This is a name Agnes knows – he is the man who killed her mentor, and she is hot for revenge. Etienne desperately tries to delay her, at least until after dinner. There is chatting over dinner, and Etienne talks Agnes until staying through the ball the next night so he can dance with the lovely Helen and her lovely sister Isabel.
The ball is, naturally, a costume ball. There’s a bunch of chatting – Etienne wants to dance; Agnes wants revenge. She stalks off after Renault de Valence only to lose him among the partygoers. She moves through the crowd, drinks a glass of wine, and as she finally spots him, a hand lands heavily on her shoulder. It is one other than the man she left at the altar. And the wine she drank was drugged.
Helen and Francoise find her in the hedge maze and revive her with smelling salts. A woman’s scream – Agnes dashes back into the palace. Isabel, Helen’s sister, lies on the floor, murdered. And Renault himself steps up to lock the palace and initiate the hunt for the villain.
The art of Dark Agnes #2 is lively. It reminds me of watching a classic swashbuckling movie. Of course everyone is in period dress, so we’re talking layers of clothes, folds of cloth, tall boots, and tastefully heaving bosoms. The action scenes are intense, and they too are full of detail. I mean, sword fighting in the middle of a horse and coach chase? There is a lot going on and the action is plotted well, again like a movie, so everyone gets to where they need to be just in time.
I like the masquerade scenes. Thank goodness for Agnes’ short red hair so we can track her through the party. I love the costumes and the masks, most of which are more elaborate than simple dominoes, as befitting a party for the super-rich nobles. And then, when Agnes’ ex-husband-to-be shows up, and she has been drugged, the party takes on a hazed and sinister look. The scenery is distorted and dreamlike. There’s a lovely page where the backdrop is an overhead view of the maze, and the panels are fit into spaces within the maze. It’s cool.
BOTTOM LINE: LIKE READING A CLASSIC
The verbiage in Dark Agnes #2 feels a bit like reading an old novel. I like the dusting of French phrases. The language fits, but it is flowery. The main cast is just a big bigger and we can still keep track of them, but there is a strong sense that more twists are around the next corner.
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Dark Agnes #2
Agnes tries to lay low, but it is not in her nature, not when a villain is at hand!