“Beyond the Mountain” (No Spoilers)
Writer: David Lapham
Pencils: Johnny Timmons
Colors: Darlene Royer
Letters: Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover: Johnny Timmons
Why? Why? Why! Why did we have to waste so much time on those first four issues when there was such a great story to be told here at the end? The final issue of Sparta is what this entire series should have been, compelling, action-packed, and spinning off of what turns out to be a very cool premise!
This story could’ve easily been told in three issues, maybe four, but certainly not the six we got. Issue 1 was good as an introduction to this world, Issue 2 did a little better at setting up the mystery and solidifying the characters, but I could’ve completely ignored Issue 3 and 4 and just skipped to 5 and 6. I’m all for setting up characters, especially when you’re introducing a unique world like this, but there is such a thing as too much set up. I feel like I’ve sat through an hour and a half worth of a lackluster movie only for the last 30 minutes to be totally awesome!
In these last two issues this series has gone from being a David Lynch film to being Red Dawn. There has been great action and the showcase of magic has increased substantially in this issue. The magic in this world was something that was never fully explained but up until this issue was also not used much either. It is something that I wish would’ve been explored more.
I will say that the secret behind the town is pretty cool and makes the revelation of who the Maestro is from last issue make a lot more sense. There is a lot more allusion to the famous Battle of Thermopylae. I kind of felt like Lapham was forcing it into the story because at this point it’s obvious he was alluding to it already. He could’ve left out any mention of it and I think people still would’ve gotten it.
So, what are my overall thoughts on this series? I’d say it was just okay. All the awesome stuff at the end is not enough to justify getting through those early issues. Even if you read this in trade you’d realize that the story drags in the middle. But the plus side to having the entire story in your hands is that you can flip to the end and see all the great stuff that happens. Lapham does leave it open for a sequel though. I’d hope now that the town’s portion of this story seems to be done that Lapham will take the strengths of these last few issues and do something really good with it in a future series.
7 out of 10 (Above Average)