Straight from Dynamite, here's a writer's commentary by Erica Schultz on Charmed #5, the final issue of the current series. Cover by Joe Corroney, with interiors by Maria Sanapo.
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Can you believe it, Charmed fans? We made it to the end! Thank you SO much for taking this journey with us. And thank you to Maria, Tom, Heartwork Studios, Anthony, and the rest of the Dynamite crew for letting us put our own special touch on these amazing characters. And a special thanks to Risa from CBS for keeping us in line! If I had my way, we'd have witches on the Moon!
Leo getting socked right in the jaw! What a way to open a book! Look, we all know Leo is a lover, not a fighter, but there are some instances when he gets to flex his muscles. We've seen him fence and delve into swordplay. We've seen him be a straight up gladiator. So it wasn't out of the realm of possibilities for him to throw a few punches to protect his charges, and his wife! Go Leo!
When I wrote this page, I thought Dynamite and/or CBS was going to kick it back to me in a heartbeat. I had the image in my head of several suit-wearing people sitting around a conference table (not unlike Phoebe's Bay Mirror meeting in book 1) saying, "Who does this comic book writer think she is?! Just throwing in unicorns willy-nilly!" I know, no one says, "willy-nilly" and I'm not important enough to warrant such a meeting, but let me dream! Either way, I was able to get a unicorn into the story and the little girl inside of me went, "SQUEEEEEEE!"
I love Shaina, and I love her admiration for the Charmed ones. I mean, she makes potions mimicking Piper's powers. Who does that? Well, Charmed superfans, probably. Meanwhile, at P3, the remaining Charmed ones, Phoebe and Piper, are overwhelmed by a hoard of demons. I guess having the art show at P3 wasn't such a good idea.
Luckily reinforcements are on their way in the form of Shaina, Leo, and her bag of fabulous potions! It's still a harrowing ordeal when you have to gently kick these demons' asses, because, remember, they're still real people beneath those red eyes and angry exteriors.
And I hope Phoebe is willing to dip into her savings, because bar tables aren't cheap!
Phoebe is the Kung Fu Halliwell sister, but I think Piper holds her own. Of course there had to be a bit of the Piper and Leo arguing in here. It's in all marriages. Trust me. But I love Maria and Heartwork's work on the last panel. Piper with her badass freezing powers augmented by Shaina's potions is just such a great image.
I know what you're going to say, "Witches can't be frozen." Well, when a witch's soul has been removed, she's no longer a witch, therefore she can be frozen, so there! I really do like Phoebe and Shaina's back and forth, though. Phoebe offended by Shaina's fangirling over Piper's powers, and offering to show some literal battle scars to prove her worthiness. Also, we didn't want Shaina to be a "throwaway" character. We wanted her to have a significant role in this story. So after saving Leo's ass with a unicorn (sounds painful!), she gets help save the world by reuniting the Power of Three. Definitely a fangirl moment. The problem is that now Paige is taken from Gabe. His fate is up in the air! It's a tough decision for Paige, but she's able to put aside her feelings for Gabe long enough to realize there are innocents at stake at P3 that still need the Power of Three to release them.
Seeing Gabe like that really gets Paige riled up. She fluctuates between sorrow and anger and the will to do something about it! The Underworld, here they come! We know from book 4 that Maisey isn't as innocent as she appears, as she was the one who infected Djall in the first place. She shows a vicious side now, holding Gabe hostage. Paige's rage takes over, though. The idea of Paige being susceptible to her anger is something that's been explored in the show often, especially in the early years of Paige becoming a witch. Though this act doesn't fall under "personal gain" as it's in the service of saving Gabe…
…But, as we see, Gabe isn't restored like they thought. It seems like Djall has a tighter grip on the painter than we thought. We didn't want it to be so simple: Maisey dies and *Poof!* Gabe is back to normal. No, no, no…There are still consequences to be had.
We know Djall is really self-centered, but, let's be honest, he's known Maisey for 500 years. That's a LONG time. He has to feel SOMETHING now that she's gone, and oh boy he does. I also love that Maria put in the EKG heartbeat to signify Maisey's expiration. That was very cool. But lest we forget the demons who had entrusted Djall with this master plan all along. The natives truly ARE restless and decide to voice their opposition a little more forcefully than before. Too bad Djall is way more powerful than any of them.
One of the things that always seems to trip up a simple vanquishing potion is that it requires something of the demon/monster/whatever they're trying to vanquish. Now, I'm sure they could've taken some blood off Gabe's clothes, but potions work best when it's fresh, so off Phoebe and Paige go to navigate the mess that is Gabe's studio. Knowing how messy my desk is, it's true…You can't tame a creative spirit.
So many of the great Charmed battles happened at the Halliwell Manor, as did Prue's death (DAMN YOU, SHAX!) So why would this big showdown be any different? Despite the protections of the Manor, demons seem able to just waltz right in. I know Cole was able to circumvent any protective magic even before he was the Source of All Evil, but I digress. This showdown is particularly cool because while the Charmed ones seem easily defeated by the all-powerful Djall, we see where the REAL magic is coming from. Leo stands guard as Shaina concentrates with all her heart on the illusions cast on the first floor. Let's hope that attic door holds.
These first three panels are my Beauty and the Beast panels. The sisters, cloaked from Djall by Shaina's illusions, emerge from household object just like when the Beast's spell was broken. Djall is more confident than most demons, but he's no Source or even The Triad. With potions thrown and spells cast…
…Even Gillian is returned to her former self. I'm sure the demon, Vephar, who was possessing her would've loved to get some rich souls like those art patrons.
Every demon has to have a spectacular vanquishing with a big, loud, boom, or in this case, THOOOOOM! And with that, Djall is gone to a fate worse than The Underworld itself…the land of sand worms and powerlessness. Doesn't sound like a fun time for him.
With Gabe released from Djall's spell, Paige FINALLY gets her kiss! WE all know he's not Henry, so it'll be a short-lived romance, but let the girl have her moment! Shaina, exhausted from saving the day, realizes that being a Charmed One isn't all fun and games. She'll go back to her mild mannered life as a college student…for now, but don't count her out from helping in the future! Illusions is a pretty cool and USEFUL power to have.
P3, like the Manor, is supposed to be a safe place for the sisters, which is probably why so many episodes end there. It's there place to relax a bit and breathe. Despite the demon-free week, it's not 100% stress free as Elise tries one last time to get Phoebe to take that editorial position. The size of the contract alone should've scared her away. I signed fewer pages for my mortgage!
And here we are…at the end of our journey. Gabe is restored and the world is safe from evil once again…or is it? For the record, I don't know what that lady is doing with that cat, but I love cats, and cats with bowties are even better, so kudos to Maria for putting it in.
THANK YOU for taking this wild ride with us! We hope to do it again!