Last month's "Courtney Crumrin" #4 was great; it not only wrapped up the story with new girl Holly having arrived on the scene, but wildly changed the status quo for several of the main characters with Courtney now on the run from the Council. I suspect I wasn't the only one more than a little disappointed, then, to discover that "Courtney Crumrin" #5 had nothing do with the previous issue.
Ted Naifeh explained on his blog that this story was his original idea for "Courtney Crumrin" #1, but due to it not being dramatic enough to launch an ongoing series, he changed his plans. Instead of scrapping the story, though, Naifeh decided to use it here even though it takes place before "Courtney Crumrin" #1. The reason why I mention all of this is that it's not explained within the story itself.
Instead, after the cliffhanger from last month we get a quiet story about Crumrin history. And in terms of publication placement, it doesn't work very well. It feels like a letdown, a lack of follow-through on the promise from last month's final pages. I understand that Naifeh and Oni Press didn't want to throw out a completed issue, but this still doesn't feel like the right placement in the series, or at least not without some sort of explanation offered up within the issue itself on why Courtney's back at home instead of having fled town. It ends up coloring the issue's reception to the reader (myself included) and loses some of the story's impact.
The story itself is low-key and quiet, and it's easy to see why it was bumped from the first issue location. It's a story that doesn't focus on Courtney at all, instead giving us a flashback to when Aloysius Crumrin was a young man. Aloysius isn't a bad character, but this story just wasn't that interesting; it felt a little too predictable and easy. The bite that I've come to expect from "Courtney Crumrin" just wasn't present. The art at least looks good as always. I love Naifeh's art with its sharp features, and Warren Wucinich's colors continue to look great as well. This is ultimately an issue where you can drink in the great period clothing used in the flashbacks, and enjoy the smaller details. Maybe down the line we'll feel like this issue works better as part of the greater whole. But right now, both in terms of issue content as well as the placement within the ongoing series itself, it just doesn't work as well as it should.