Picking up directly from last month's cliffhanger, Arkon doesn't die, but Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo provide plenty of opportunity to call his sanity into question in "Weirdworld" #3. With an assist from Marco D'Alfonso on colors, Del Mundo draws all manner of amazing settings and creatures.
The previous issue ended with Arkon hoping to gain a new map to Weirdworld from his erstwhile ally, Warbow, should the two survive their escape. Warbow makes good on his word, but Aaron and Del Mundo take the readers back to that original thought of madness and death. Aaron excels at writing these topics, and his take on Arkon is a slightly less ambitious, less focused (but no less scrappy) Thor.
As with his Thor run, Aaron seems to have found a near-perfect match in Arkon, as the writer seems to be cramming idea after idea into the pages of "Weirdworld." Many of those ideas bear fruit in this issue, while some others are just beginning to sprout, giving readers plenty to look forward to as Aaron continues to develop Arkon's personality, adventures and the rest of Weirdworld around him.
Using the notion of "Secret Wars" as a leaping off point, "Weirdworld" #3 picks and chooses the best sword and sorcery bits from the Marvel Universe and plays around with them. I'm certain Aaron has compared writing a shared universe to playing in the sandbox but, in this case, Aaron has taken so very many of these old, long-buried toys and made them the envy of many while entertaining readers with fun, bombastic ideas that aren't hampered by other appearances, licenses or expected outcomes. "Weirdworld" is Aaron's chance to be a little more insane than usual, and he makes the most of it here. Most amazing of all, Aaron has found a way to take Arkon, a character I never cared for at all, and make him someone I want to read more of as soon as possible.
Del Mundo and D'Alfonso prove quite capable of tackling anything Aaron can dream up, as the duo fills the pages of "Weirdworld" #3 with crazy crystalline warriors, devouring dragons, molten lavamen and one of the most intense swordfights depicted in a comic in a long time. The duo uses color for lighting and mood, washing entire scenes in chilling white or boiling lava red. They also bolster atmosphere through uncommon contrasts, like pinks against greens, and truly make this a unique looking comic book.
Del Mundo's drawings are masterful story slices, as he frames bits within each panel, giving readers a fine succession of tales to absorb. The artist uses a magnificent depth of field effect throughout the issue, amplifying the ready-for-cinema tale. While Aaron has made Arkon his own through his writing, Del Mundo has done the same with the art. Arkon has a dynamic range of expressions, and the artist mixes those in nicely in "Weirdworld" #3 through every setting and scene. Del Mundo also has some fun with Weirdworld in general, sneaking in a fun wink-and-a-nod cameo at the bar in the background as Arkon meets Skull the Slayer.
Cory Petit sparingly letters the tale, allowing Del Mundo's artwork to breathe. The letterer certainly has the opportunity to pick and choose placement of captions and balloons, as Aaron and Del Mundo appear to be in tune, functioning to tell one tale with one voice. Petit uses a burgundy red to capture Arkon's thoughts in caption boxes, which works to lock the text into the imagery just as much as the depth of field choice seems to reach out and envelop the reader.
"Weirdworld" #3 is another fantastic chapter in this series as Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo continue to chart out their own map of Weirdworld. With characters like Arkon, Skull, Warbow and Morgan Le Fey passing through these panels, there is no shortage of weird, just more potential to be explored. We've seen two interpretations of Weirdworld through maps so far with this creative crew in place; I'm looking forward to more, and hopefully even more obscure discoveries along the way.