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Zenescope Advance Reviews for 7/21/2010

Comic Reviews

Ryan Porter takes a look at Charmed #1,
Grim Fairy Tales #49, Neverland #4, and Red Banned #1


Click on a cover to preview that issue.

Charmed #1

I should come clean and preface this review by saying that I have never watched even a minute of Charmed. I’m aware of its existence and the actresses that starred in it but that’s as far as it goes.

This new series from Zenescope is clearly meant for those who watched the television show. This issue begins a year and a half after “happily ever after”. For anyone who was sad to see the series end this is certainly a good thing.

Despite my previous lack of knowledge regarding the show I found this issue to be surprisingly friendly toward new comers. Certainly fans will get more out of it than I did and will actually know who these girls are but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the issue. While it’s no easy task this issue manages to give fans more to love and new comers something to new to enjoy. Each group is given enough to satisfy them and still is able to start these characters into a new direction. This firs tissue does a terrific job of bringing us up to speed on where these women are now at in their lives since the end of the show and plants the beginning of several potential story lines that will play out though several issue of even the series.

Charmed is a franchise that feels right at home with Zenescope. Beautiful women, magic and mystery are all staples of Zenescope and Charmed has them in abundance. Charmed is poised to serve as a worthy continuation to the television show and will no doubt find new fans along the way.

Grimm Fairy Tales #49

This series reminds me of that one show that’s on television. Not a specific show and it’s not the same show for everyone even though you all know what show I’m talking about. I’m talking about that show that you have a tendency to catch here and there as you’re channel surfing through countless stations and shows instead of doing something more worthwhile – like reading comics! It’s that show that you watch when you stumble across it and then finish whatever episode you came across. And every time the episode ends you think to yourself: “I should really start watching this show”. That’s essentially the same feeling I get every time I sit down to read Grimm Fairy Tales.

I’m constantly intrigued by what I get to take in and always enjoy myself. This issue in particular was a terrific chance to catch up as the main character was either new to her situation or was suffering from some manner of memory loss. With so much magic flying around it’s hard to tell. Regardless, she and the reader share a similar journey in learning, or re-learning, about the world this series is set in. Actually there are several worlds involved.

I don’t remember there being so many different fantasy world and lands involved the last time I read an issue of Grimm Fairy Tales. There could be several reasons for this whether I missed it before or perhaps this is some manner of crossover. Regardless of the reason it added to my enjoyment of the issue. Seeing that all these Fairy Tale lands were separate but still connected was a unique idea.

Grimm Fairy Tales repeatedly offers a unique perspective on the once familiar stories we all thought we knew. This issue continues that trend and offers a distinct jumping on point for new readers.

Neverland #4

Zenescope features a wide variety of comics that take the old familiar stories and fairy tales we remember from our childhoods and turn them completely around with real world influences like sex and violence. The best example of which, by far, can be found in the series known simply as Neverland.

Neverland is the twisted tale of Peter Pan. The story comes from a simple concept, what if Peter Pan was the bad guy? It’s simple idea to say the least but one that really makes perfect sense once you begin to think more about it. Someone that comes into the rooms of children in the middle of the night and kidnaps them to another realm could only be the bad guy. How could he not be? Pan was never afraid to use the massive crocodile to help him and now that crocodile is Pan’s massive monster pet/enforcer. I thoroughly enjoyed this series from the beginning and am delighted to still find surprises waiting for me in each new issue.

Particularly satisfying in this issue was the concept of the Lost Boys of Neverland. Just like the rest of this series, don’t assume you know what to expect. In perfectly fitting with the concept these Lost Boys are truly terrifying.

I find myself torn between hoping for a long running series and knowing this may best be a story told in a shorter number of issues. Pan as a villain is just too much fun and I already don’t want to see it end. There’s so much more than turning the characters from bad to good and good to bad. The writer, Joe Brusha, has given all of these characters unique histories and personalities. They play against one another as if in a soap opera and it really adds depth turning a good idea into a great story.

Sci-Fi Fantasy: Red Banned

Zenescope’s latest anthology entry tells an all too familiar story. It’s the not too distant future and money and corruption have replaced morality and progress in a world where murder is considered entertainment. And no one, or company, with deep enough pockets will ever get into any trouble.

While this may not stand out as the most original idea writer Tim Cox does bring in several unique ideas to the familiar concept to help his story stand out. The main focus of the story is a murder mystery in which the latest target, a beautiful young woman, bares some uncanny similarities to the previous to victims. She seeks help and refuge from a police detective as they both hope to discover the truth of what is really going on.

The pair become much more then victims; they actually become the latest stars in the sadistic entertainment program. To the point where they are actually recognized walking the street. How do you keep a low profile and hide from a killer when everyone knows who you are?

Cox’s mystery has a fantastic twist, that you must realize I can’t reveal!, and was my favorite aspect of the story. It brought in much more a science fiction element and really made the story unique as opposed to it becoming yet another version or new twist on The Running Man.

Unfortunately the story moves too quickly with the mystery wrapping up much too fast. Having an entire story in one issue is a nice feature but I really felt like this story deserved more room to breathe. There was a lot more than could have been done with this material and a few more issues would’ve really help the strength of the mystery and made the reveal much stronger.

The art by Anthony Spay could’ve also been given more room to breathe. Spay’s style is perfect for the Noir like atmosphere and at times is incredibly strong with well done action and plenty of beautiful women. But there are moments where the art is inconsistent and removes me from the flow of the story. Several characters are supposed to look virtually identical and yet they rarely do. There are even times when the characters look dramatically different from pages to page. As with the story the art was very good with a lot to offer but could’ve used more time to work effectively.

Red Banned is a solid Noir style science fiction mystery that effectively manages to leave the reader surprised and with something to think about. I believe a stronger focus on a few less genres and elements would’ve provided a better feel than trying to use a little bit of everything. But whatever short comings I felt the story might have had I was still thinking about it long after I read it so clearly Cox and Spay did something right. Red Banned goes on sale Wednesday July 21st and offers forty-seven engrossing pages for $4.99.

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