…Until season 10 anyway, which won’t be long now. I’m looking forward to reviewing season 10 as it is released as opposed to doing it in such a belated fashion as with this season; though I’ve enjoyed looking back at the comics and reviewing season 9 nevertheless. So, we’re on to the fourth and final volume of the ninth season. We vanquished The Source, we met the first witch and we got Prue back in a new body! It’s been eventful so far. Darklighter Rennek is still out there scheming despite his plan to reunite the sisters and send the world into chaos being thwarted. We ended volume 3 with Paige’s adopted son Henry jr. using a magic power to cover his room in ice… but hey, isn’t he mortal? Well, we get a explanation soon enough in vol. 4.
Volume 4 opens with Phoebe giving birth. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that it was hinted at by Cole in volume 3 that she was pregnant? Oops. Well, obviously there is a considerable time lapse between the third and fourth volume. Phoebe gives birth to her second daughter, Parker Halliwell. But it is not a very happy world that Parker has been born into. Magic is gone, well not gone, but switched. The sisters no longer have magic; nor do the rest of the magical community; now it belongs to the mortals. Ever Tom, Dick and Harry has a power now. Among them, Henry can transform objects and Elise can make plants grow, so they help the sisters out when suspicion is aroused. You see, now that magic is the new normal, anyone without it is met with suspicion and rumours are spreading about the government taking and dissecting those who don’t display powers to work out why they’re different. So, it’s a scary world. Violent magic gangs are forming and the government has created magic squads to try and control them; leading to huge supernatural riots on the city streets. It’s a cool story line which merges the light wacky elements of Charmed with a very dark and sinister tone; much like the early seasons but on a grander scale.
While all this is happening, Rennek is in an unknown location, living a life of luxury. Somehow he has taken control of the world’s magic; but there’s one thing he doesn’t foresee.
After months of being away from her sisters, Prue is out doing what she does best, demon fighting. You may remember that Prue stripped her magic last volume so that the power of three could go on without her; so technically, she’s mortal now. Not only has the switch given her her old powers back, she has all her sisters’ powers as well. The power of three in one body.
As a magic gang approaches the Halliwells, an old friend comes to their aid. It’s Darryl! Yay, Darryl. In his first appearance since the season 7 finale, Darryl is heading one of the magic squads, because God knows he’ll never escape the supernatural craziness! Armed with a cool new laser beam power, Darryl reunites with the sisters. There’s a nice moment in which Darryl asks Prue about Andy (his partner, who died in season 1), it was a nice touch.
As Prue goes outside and fights the magic gang with all she has, the sisters slowly begin to get their powers back. The more magic Prue exhausts, the more power the sisters get back. Prue starts an earth quake, Piper manages to cause a small explosion; Prue deflects an attack, Paige manages to raise up her forcefield; and finally, Phoebe and Prue share a premonition of Prue’s unconscious body on the ground. Using the last bit of magic she has left, Prue uses a power of three spell all on her lonesome to banish the gang from the area; ending with her dropping unconscious as the premonition foretold. Prue’s body is healed by Paige, but not before Prue meets Cole in the space between life and death, where it’s getting crowded and people are panicking, as the doors to the afterlife are shut due to Earth’s magic being all wonky.
The gang venture to the Nexus of The All. I think I mentioned The All in the Neena arc right? The magical energy that runs through the world? Well The Nexus of The All is like the yummy caramel center, the high point of earth’s magic… which takes the form of a huge purple dome in the middle of the desert, usually invisible. This happens to be where Rennek is and he has the Empyreal Sword and the Grimoire (The Underworld’s Book of Shadows), which is how he has taken control of the magic. Inside the dome, the sisters can reach the full potential of their powers; which is good, because Rennek is using his magic to make soldiers out of just about anything that’s handy.
Piper is able to blow up like ten soldiers at once and can also change the soldiers back to their original inanimate forms simply by willing it to happen. Phoebe can fly and she enjoys it very much. Paige opts for scattering the soldiers’ orbs across the world; making it impossible for them to reassemble.
Prue manages to take the sword out of The Grimoire and get this… absorbs both into herself! Dude, how badly do you want magic in you? Not that I can blame her, who wouldn’t? She ends up with a bunch of runic style tattoos on her body and uses her new magic to vanquish Rennek and put everything back to normal. While I admit, it was a cool and climactic ending; I was a little unsure how I felt about how Prue pretty much ended Rennek’s reign while Piper, Phoebe and Paige just sorta watched… but I guess they had a big battle beforehand. Oh by the way, I loved seeing the sisters’ friends helping in the fight: Elise, Darryl, Tyler, Bailey…that was good to see, it’s nice that they have more allies now.
Prue is now The Guardian of the Nexus and because of this, she must stay in the dome… but she uses her magic to transform it into a replica of the Manor. Cole is assigned to stay with Prue at the Nexus in order to act as a sort of messenger between her and the sisters (also giving Prue some company I guess), it’s said that if he proves himself by doing this, The Elders may let him move on. While I like the idea of Prue and Cole in this role; I have major issues with the Elders having a say over when anyone gets to move on; isn’t that The Angel of Death’s deal? Anyway, it should be interesting to see where that goes in season 10.
It was certainly a big finale. Fan response to the final few issue was a little mixed. Some think it got a bit too “out there” and should stick to being grounded in the cozy Manor setting. I actually don’t mind the bigger story lines (season 7 was a fav of mine after all) but I get what some people are saying. I definitely preferred the first half of season 9 to the second, but the second set up a lot of stuff that will continue into season 10 and I am very interested to see what develops.
Half of the artwork in this volume is Dean Kotz, continuing from vol. 3, while the last few issues are illustrated by Rubine. Rubine’s art is quite nice; the likenesses are pretty good although some times it’s a little too obvious that the drawings are based on promo photos, making it look a little less natural than I might like. However, many of the artists improved as they did more issues, so perhaps if Rubine returns for season 10 at some point, we’ll see those creases ironed out. I thought the same with Dean Kotz…while his art was far from my favourite, he definitely improved as the season went on.
So, that’s season 9 done. Been fun to go back over it. I’m very happy Charmed is back, despite my initial reservations. This is a very good comic book continuation. It transitions smoothly from screen to page and remains very true to the show, both with story lines and characters. Say what you will about the Buffy vs. Charmed debate, but I do believe the Charmed comics have succeeded in doing what, I’m sad to say, the Buffy comics failed to do in so many ways. This really is season 9, a natural progression to the story. I don’t find myself using the “well, it’s a comic” excuse, which really isn’t even an excuse. This fits so easily into the Charmed canon that you can feel secure in the fact that the Charmed-verse is in very good hands. Not only that, but the comics have rekindled my love for Charmed. After season 8, I was happy to say goodbye to Charmed; I thought the series had had everything squeezed out of it that it possibly could… and not in a good way. But the comics answered questions the show didn’t; it brought new life to the Charmed-verse and its characters. So way to go Paul Ruditis, Zenescope and everyone else involved in this great comic book series.
Charmed isn’t over. I’ll see you in season 10.