Curse Words #4 continues to prove that writer Charles Soule and artist Ryan Browne have one of the most consistently funny and irreverent titles on the stands right now, but this latest issue doesn’t just rest on its laurels. Soule and Browne use the issue to offer up some pretty fascinating developments in both plot and character, making this one of the most enjoyable and well-constructed issues since the stellar debut.
As Wizord finds himself trying to mollify the New York authorities after his battle with an evil wizard caused millions of people to vanish, he finds a new enemy in a French interpol agent who seems to be the only human on Earth who doesn’t buy Wizord’s bulls#*t. But that is just a momentary hurdle to get over as Wizord and his talking Koala Margaret begin their journey to different magical points on Earth in an attempt to replenish Wizord’s depleted magical abilities. Meanwhile, Wizord’s ex Ruby Stitch arrives on Earth on her mission to kill him for the demonic Sizzajee.
Soule and Browne take their monumentally selfish but somewhat good-intentioned anti-hero on a journey this issue, which sees him alternate between moments of genuine heroism and complete douchebaggery to hilarious degree. The idea of placing a self-centred narcissistic hipster wizard at the center of the story was the best part of the series, because it totally upends our preconceived notions of how a powerful wizard is supposed to be have. I almost wonder if Soule and Browne’s original concept for the series was “What if GOB from ‘Arrested Development’ was actually magical?” If that was the inspiration, then kudos, sirs, kudos.
The issue itself sees Wizord and Margaret, who make a hilarious Pinocchio/Jiminy Cricket kind of team, try and find places of magic on Earth and even though they believe their efforts have only positive effects, it’s hard to believe any plan involving Wizord won’t have some kind of horrible consequence to it. Margaret may be Wizord’s conscience, but that doesn’t mean Margaret is is a really good conscience, she just might be good in comparison to Wizord.
Curse Words #4 not only provides a new subplot beyond Wizord’s primary quest in the form of their journeys to Earth’s magical spots, but it also advances the main plot as well, as Ruby Stitch draws herself closer to the prey she is hunting both for her master and for her own obvious personal satisfaction. I’m still not sure Ruby as a character is as compelling as Wizord, Margaret, Sizzajee or the others we meet, but I’m inclined to give her a little more time to get cooking. A character who does click right away as a new foil is the hilariously named Jacques Zaque, the enraged Interpol agent who I hope will figure more prominently as we go along. If you are someone who doesn’t buy Wizord at all, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be for everyone else to find him so charming.
Browne’s art kicks butt, as always. His characters are intrinsically funny without being exaggerated for comic effect, he just uses expression well. There’s a hilarious sequence on an airplane with Margaret labelled as a service animal while Wizord sloshes around champagne while wearing a fake beard. That’s funny enough, but the expressions on the faces of the other passengers is downright hilarious. But Browne nails the magical action of the issue just a solidly, from small scale moments of delight to wide-screen apocalyptic showdowns. The colors by Michael Garland and Browne (with Michael Parkinson) pop off the page with their neon hues and crackling energy.
Curse Words #4 is another solid instalment in a black magic comedy that delivers supernatural action, dark laughs and solid character study in equal measure. 9/10