With the final issue of the series, “The Anchor” wraps up in an open-ended fashion, allowing for a future return to the characters. It also provides a strong conclusion to the book’s current plot. With Clem’s descendent, Hofi, corrupted by the forces of Hell to the point where he had to kill her demonic self, he’s gone to Hell to reclaim her, and, to do so, he must team up with his own soul, which we’ve seen fighting against Satan’s armies for the series. This idea is a natural way to end the series and leads to a satisfying conclusion after some great demon-smashing action.
Beginning with four splash pages, this issue is a little light on actual plot, but Phil Hester makes sure that Brian Churilla is given a chance to shine with lots of action as the two Clems make their way through an army of demons. We’ve seen both the physical and spiritual Clem in battle before, but there’s something very cool about the two of them fighting side by side. Churilla also does a great job of making each version look distinct. They’ve always looked different, the soul paler and rested in appearance, while the body of Clem is beaten down and carries the scars of his numerous battles. Seeing them together, you get a complete picture of the character.
Since this issue is driven by the two Clems fighting their way through Hell and past Satan himself, Churilla flexes his action muscles a bit more. Hiss art carries the issue to a degree with his cartoony, blocky style that gives Clem a look of being carved out of granite, while Hofi is much softer. His demons are varied in size and shape, some monstrous creatures, while others are more warrior-like. His design of Satan is also original and very different from other incarnations. Over the course of the series, his line work has become much more confident and defined. His style is clean and very dynamic.
Hester isn’t invisible at all in this issue, writing some interesting narration and dialogue. The opening splashes have Hester setting the stage in words for the epic battle, while also filling readers in. His narration is a little bombastic and cheesy in spots, but that fits the tone of the comic.
Despite representing two parts of Clem, neither one distinguishes himself from the other beyond their differing appearances. Both Clems are relatively quiet, but they understand what’s going on around them far better than anyone else, including Satan. However, that allows the defeat of Satan to come too easily. One of the weaknesses of this book has been the unstoppable, never-going-to-lose element of Clem’s character. There’s a lack of tension in his fights.
As Hester writes at the end of the comic, “The Anchor” was originally pitched as a graphic novel or six-issue mini-series, so it ending its attempt as an ongoing book at issue eight doesn’t deviate from his plans much. As it stands, “The Anchor” was an entertaining action series with some intriguing mysteries — and it ends well. Hopefully, it will return again in the future since there’s definitely potential in the characters for future stories.