Writer: Steve Skroce
Artist: Steve Skroce
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Review by Frank Lanza
Have you ever read something that immediately shook you to your core? Maybe it changed how you view the world, or how you view your place in it, but you knew that after reading these pages your life would never be the same. Well, Maestros is probably not that book. However, after I read the first issue of Steve Skroce’s absolutely insane masterpiece of a comic, I knew that I would never look at old Texan dudes in a strip club the same way ever again.
Maestros #4 continues the saga of Will, the newly minted Maestro after his father Meethra was brutally murdered by the undead wizard Mardok. After taking the reins of the most powerful wizard in the universe, Will set about making his father’s kingdom a more tolerable place for all beings, magical and otherwise. Unfortunately, his father’s court were the culprits behind the coup led by Lord Rygol. After he tricked Will’s childhood love Wren to steal the book of unmaking he then murdered her. Will loses his shit and siphons off all the realms magical energies to resurrect her, disabling all his defenses against an attack which inevitably comes when Mardok is freed once again. Whew, ok we’re all caught up, let’s see what crazy crap Maestros #4 has in store for us?
This issue picks up with Will, Wren and Margaret seeking refuge in the Underworld. Once upon a time Will saved the skin of the Princess Zeela and he has come in the hopes he can claim the favor and gain sanctuary while they plan how to retrieve the Book of Unmaking from Rygol. The majority of the issue takes place in flashbacks, as we see how Will’s mother tried to protect him from the merciless punishments his father administered when Will wasn’t up to his snuff. As any mother would do, Margaret would give up her own life to free herself and Will from Meethra’s grasp and allow them to return to Earth. Of course, the Maestro is true to his word but not necessarily in spirit, allowing Will to go back to Orlando and sending Margaret to a desolate world. Back in the present, Will begins his trek to Zeela’s palace in the underworld, but unfortunately humans aren’t exactly welcome and his journey appears to end before it has even begun.
We’re four issues into this wild ride that is Maestros and Skroce hasn’t slowed down at all. This book is rude, crude, fantastic, dramatic and epic all within the same 22 pages. It’s like all the best parts of Rat Queens, Manhattan Projects, Saga and Lord of the Rings were stuff into a blender and then dumped out onto the page in a whirlwind of blood, guts and ghetto ass elves. I really can’t overstate just how much fun this book is to read. It’s a rare book that can combine belly laughs, revolting gore and breathtaking vistas on nearly every page.
Skroce handles all of the art and writing duties on this book, so to keep this thing coming out monthly I have to believe he either started producing this title 10 years ago or is some kind of evil undead wizard himself. I’ve seen his insanely detailed work in other titles, like We Stand on Guard, but Maestros takes it to yet another level. Every single page is so jam packed with characters, architecture, creatures and detail so dense that I’ll just sit and study a page for a few minutes before reading the dialog. He’s really outdone himself on the visuals here.
As for his writing chops, the man is no slouch there either. Not only is the book extremely funny, the plot is absolutely riveting and underneath all the death, dismemberment and dick jokes there is a very solid long game developing with this story.
Dave Stewart has his work cut out for him coloring this book and he does an outstanding job giving life to Skroce’s jam packed pencils. He’s laying down a vibrant, vivid fantasy world with his colors and seems to have no problems bringing out the details in the most complex wardrobe and architectural designs that Skroce can throw at him. All around, the art team these two have created is producing a behemoth of a book each and every month.
Buy it! Of course my verdict is Buy It! Admittedly, Maestros #4 is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not politically correct, it’s not straight Tolkien-esque fantasy; it’s a potty mouthed gore filled express elevator to hell and I’m happy to be along for the ride. As long as Skroce can keep Will’s adventures unpredictable and unapologetic, I’ll be buying this book. And so should you!