I just can't get excited by this series. There was so much about the pitch that intrigued me, particularly the idea of including an interactive magic trick each month. But I don't even think this issue even had one---arguably the bit where Ward is projecting an image into the guy's head was supposed to be it, but, I mean, come on---and the story built around them just isn't clicking. I do think Smoke and Mirrors #4 was possibly the best issue yet, the closest to grabbing my attention, but it still missed the mark.
What worked was Mr. Carrol finally openly embracing his villainous role. Ryan Browne makes Carrol very menacing, his face always stone cold and often obscured in shadow. And the two panels where he "names" things by their true, magical names looked great. I wish there was more of that kind of world-warping magical imagery in this series. The final splash page actually has a lot of the same elements, and was another favorite moment of mine. When the magic is being used at full steam in this world, it's hypnotizing, but those moments are rarities. And the rest of Browne's art, while more consistent this issue than before, is still a bit too plain and vague to capture me. And why did Tim look so similar to Carrol? Was that intentional? Because if that doesn't end up being a story point, it was a really, really bad call.
I guess, generally, Smoke and Mirrors #4 was more like what I hoped it to be from the beginning. It's been a long wait for Carrol to come face to face with Ward, but even when that moment arrives, it's so slow-moving and so little is accomplished that it just feels boring. Only one issue to go now, so I'm in until the end, but I'm not excited for it in the least.