This issue is the first Zenescope Entertainment comic that I’ve read all-the-way through in quite some time, and I must admit to having been pleasantly surprised by what I found. Unsurprisingly, Zenescope’s twist on The Jungle Book has some obvious alterations, such as Mowgliii being recast as a gorgeous girl, but aside from that aesthetic change this is a very engaging and enjoyable adaptation of a classic story.
This issue focuses on the origin of Mowglii, and puts several different twists on a story which readers only thought that they knew. In Zenescope’s version, Mowglii isn’t the only child to wind up in the Jungle, as he appears along with a few other babies in the middle of a great war within the Jungle between various different animal factions. Bagheera, wanting to end the bloodshed, calls the appearance of the children an omen, and convinces the factions to suspend all fighting, with the concession being that each major faction takes one of the human babies with them. In Mowglii’s case, she never finds out that she wasn’t the only one found, instead believing that she was an only child.
Much of this issue focuses on the original arrival of Mowglii to the Jungle, which means that there’s less of the present-day adventuers of Mowglii that are seen in these pages. To be perfectly honest, I think I was surprised at just how solid and enjoyable this story was. Sure, some of the artwork is cheesecake, but it’s totally forgiveable when reading the story by Miller, Gregory, Brusha and Tedesco. It can be tough to retell classic stories, yet Zenescope makes it seem so effortless, as they managed to totally suck me into this new retelling of a classic story. I can`t wait to see what happens next in this book, to see how the different factions are further developed, to see what happened to the other human children, and to see further characterization of Bagheera, Shere Khan and Baloo, amongst others. There are a lot of different directions that the writers could go in, as they have a veritable blank slate, and I can’t wait to see what other new spins they might have in store for the readers.
The artwork is key for an issue like this, as most of the characters are going to be animals instead of human beings. For some artists, it can be hard to not only illustrate animals, but also manage to draw distinctive-looking animals for the renditions of certain characters. Thankfully this isn’t an issue at all for Granda, as the artwork here is absolutely gorgeous. Buenaventura is a big part of this as well, as they do a terrific job of colouring this issue. The issue is eye-popping, with lush, beautiful backgrounds, and tremendous colouring talent evident. The colours are vibrant, and have a very light and bright tone . It’s interesting, it wasn’t until after reading this issue that I realized just how dark most modern comics have gotten, in terms of their colouring, a feeling which is further exacerbated when a few colourists set the colouring tone for each of the Big Two comic book companies. So when you get a comic which has a totally different colour palette, which really embraces rich colours to flesh out a jungle background, it’s a special experience, and a memorable one . Although at first it’s easy to dismiss Zenescope’s decision to make Mowglii as typical given some of their books’ content, especially considering some of their covers for their books, the interior art is actually quite tasteful, and toned down. The decision to make Mowglii female may just be arbitrary, but given how the issue is written, it doesn’t seem to have been an exploitive decision, for which I’m thankful.
This was a surprising read for me, a really solid new take on the Jungle Book, which managed to subvert all of my expectations, and instead tell a solid new twist on an old classic, with beautiful artwork boasting lush, vibrant colours. Highly Recommended!