Down into the depths of Baphomet’s realm go Arak, Johannes and Malagigi in order that the Gog might be released upon White Cathay and Angelica be deposed. By releasing the Gog though, they would not only destroy White Cathay and all those that reside within but the world as well and Malagigi and Arak will not allow that to happen. While they have no real plan in order to avoid such a thing, they have no time to think about it as a couple of Tartars have followed them down, one a magic-user named Xadox who made it possible which leads to a battle between Arak and the two men. Roy Thomas and Adrian Gonzales make the suspense quite palpable as the men fight for their lives with little saving them from the abyss but their will to stay alive, though, for one of them, that is soon not going to be enough. As it turns out, Arak survives and it is not long before Baphomet rises from the depths of his hell, hungry for the flesh of all those who have invaded his realm, but thankfully, Malagigi and Johannes have their wits about them. As the book moves into its final acts, there are two storylines that take place, the one readers have been enjoying featuring Arak and his companions and another that takes place back in White Cathay and it is there that Valda, who has had about enough at this point, takes the fight to Angelica with everything that she has. For Angelica, her magic has been weakened at this point and a physical battle is not something she thought she would have to face and so it is that Valda gets the upper hand with the men she commands all placing bets upon who is going to win. Suffice it to say, Valda would have ended Angelica’s threat for good if not for Haakon. Meanwhile back in the darkness where Baphomet dwells, the wizards bargain for their lives and answer the riddle needed to release the Gog. As things are looking their grimmest, Thomas has his hero do the unthinkable so that they might live, and that is to answer the second riddle which would release the Magog, the second unearthly force upon the Earth which will almost assuredly lead to its destruction. In a last desperate act, Angelica escapes within the pentagram to Baphomet’s realm and it is there that she manages to rescue Arak, leaving everything up in the air with readers forced to buy the next issue if they are to find out. Featuring plenty of horror and tension, not to mention a bit of comedy even amongst all the action, the twenty-third issue of Arak continues to thrill with every turn of the page.
4.5 out of 5