Cinderella Serial Killer Princess #1 (Comic) Review

Cinderella Serial Killer Princess #1 (Comic) Review

Before I say anything about this comic, I need to point out that I had never heard of Zenescope Entertainment until very recently. So it’s safe to say that I had never heard of their Grimm Fairy Tales series nor had I read any of the comics. That being said, it was clear upon reading Cinderella Serial Killer Princess that I was missing a huge chunk of the story and I went into it extremely confused. I didn’t know what titles I was supposed to read beforehand and I’m not about to start at this moment in time. With that in mind, this review of Cinderella Serial Killer Princess will be done completely at face value and my confusion surrounding the story did not hinder the score.

Cinderella Serial Killer Princess #1 (Comic) Review 4From my understanding the story goes as follows: Cinderella awakens on a bed confused and disoriented as she was supposed to have been dead. A man named Baron Samedi AKA Voodoo (who looks suspiciously like Doctor Facilier from Princess and the Frog) tells her that he brought her back and the Dark Horde wants her to murder someone named Robyn, the person who “killed” her. Cinderella eagerly accepts the offer and starts her rampage; killing everyone Robyn loves and cares for before taking her out.

Cinderella Serial Killer Princess can be summed up in four words: ostentatious, ridiculous, vulgar and cruel. However, I mean all of that in the best way.

I don’t know what lead up to this insanity but the story was easy enough to follow. It’s literally just 23 pages of Cinderella murdering her “enemies” and looking pretty while doing it. It’s rather difficult to judge the comic story-wise since I personally don’t see a point in murdering all of the pre-established and long standing characters, but knowing how comic books go, the murders will either turn out to have been a dream or everyone will get brought back to life somehow.

Cinderella Serial Killer Princess #1 (Comic) Review 5Readers should be forewarned that this Cinderella is not the charming underdog we grew to love, as that woman doesn’t exist in this universe. She comes off rather valley-girlish and ditzy and she stretches out her vowels and ends most sentences with upwards inflection. Her perceived immaturity seems to be a façade however as this Cinderella is a hilarious hardened badass dressed in a sex store counterpart to her blue ball gown. Her battle skills are to be commended, as she’s able to take out other characters with surprising ease and in quick succession with much cruelty and viciousness. She rolls a woman in a wheelchair off a building and even sticks another woman’s head on her sword and uses it like a puppet. From a girl who grew up being treated like a servant by her evil stepmother, it’s just so jaw dropping and comical that I played cartoony noises in my head with every kill.

What I greatly appreciated was that Cinderella Serial Killer Princess lives up to its name through the artwork. It’s a gore hound’s fantasy; limbs are blown off, bodies are crushed and squished and blood splatters across every page. The artwork isn’t that unique in terms of character design but it’s colourful and busy enough without being too distracting and fits the fairy tale universe it inhabits. The comic is easy and fun on the eyes.

Cinderella Serial Killer Princess is junk food for the brain—nothing but mind numbing violence. If you’re looking for a comic with substance, you won’t find it here but it’s not meant to be that way. It’s a teenage boy’s wet dream, a fast-food combo of violence, boobs and absurdity. If you love that kind of thing, I suggest you add this comic to your collection for a good laugh.

Spirit Hunters #1 (Comic) Review

Spirit Hunters #1 (Comic) Review

The month of scares may be over, but ghosts are always in season in my book. A steady stream of terrible ghost hunter shows is always a favored pick on my cold nights. If you too like the spooks all year ‘round, Spirit Hunters, published by Zenescope might be a worth your time as well.

Spirit Hunters #1 (Comic) Review 3Spirit Hunters tells the story of a rag tag group of paranormal investigators as they go on their first mission. It seems that there have been a few unexplained deaths in a Texas hospital and an angry ghosty might be responsible. It’s up to our plucky young protagonists to document the the goings-on, figure out the why and, if possible, put the malicious menace to rest.

What follows is largely a character piece. We have quite a collection of characters taking part in this investigation. You have the young skeptic working the camera, positive that there is nothing extranormal going on here. There’s the punky techie, being flirtatious and rebellious. Two old guys find their way onto the team, both professional and intelligent, something tells me that we might lose one. Finally, we have our central character, a young college student who is probably some kind of psychic, on the tail end of a bad relationship.

The interplay between these characters is usually enjoyable. They give off a sort of Scooby-Doo meets Ghostbusters feeling, though the overall tone is less comedic. Some of the interactions seem a little bit weak, but it’s nothing that threatens to breaks immersion. The story itself is mostly formulaic and predictable, with a twist or two thrown in for good measure, but it feels like a great place to start and get to meet these people.

Julius Abrera’s art shines through on every page, managing to shock its darker tone into life. With the cell phones, fires, and one spooky ghost, the whole comic feels like it glows, cementing the feeling that this world is alive, ghost or not, and reflects our current culture nicely.

Spirit Hunters #1 (Comic) Review 4I don’t have much more to say about Spirit Hunters, and that’s what I’m afraid of. When I look at a book like this and don’t carry much away from it, it makes be think that this is doomed to be forgotten. There is so much competition out there, not just from other comics but from stellar television, some decent movies, and even games. I’m afraid that this little band of ghost punchers might get lost in the shuffle, especially as we go into the holiday season.

Spirit Hunters is slated for a limited run of 12 issues, and that’s probably my favorite thing about it. Nothing ruins a good story like bloat and I think 12 is a great number for a fast-paced story with limited downtime. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too terribly long for issue two to make its appearance.

The story might be a little easy in this first issue and the characters could use some fine tuning, but it leaves them plenty of space to play with. Despite the few problems, I thoroughly enjoyed Spirit Hunters, from cover to cover. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride because the spooks are going to just keep coming.

The Little Mermaid Part 1: Landlocked (Comic) Review

The Little Mermaid Part 1: Landlocked (Comic) Review

Re-telling and re-imagining classic fairy tales have long been a way for movies, television, books, and even video games to explore a familiar narrative while injecting modern commentary and subtext into the mix. When handled well, it can create a new tale out of an old one by tweaking tropes and even offering entirely different interpretations. When it doesn’t, it can still rely on nostalgia.

Little Mermaid #1 falls somewhere in the middle of this.

It’s a new take on the classic Grimm’s fairy tale and draws some parallels to Disney’s animated film of the same name. But the parallels serve more as a basic framework than the core, as a sci-fi twist is added.
littlemermaidinsert1There’s no beautifully-singing Ariel,  Sebastian, Flounder, or handsome Prince Eric to be found. Rather, this story is about a young woman who appears to take on mermaid-like properties and even adopts a sea monster-like transformation at one point.

But she’s not living in the wide-open ocean. Rather, she appears to live inside a testing facility, constantly undergoing studies for researchers to learn more about her abilities. It’s a haunting, creepy situation mostly portrayed well.

littlemermaidinsert2Jumping between subplots haphazardly does harm it, however. The comic begins twenty years in the past, then jumps to present day, then jumps to another woman searching for her missing daughter. There’s a hint of flow between everything, but the connective tissue between all of them feels as though it could have been a bit stronger. Expository monologues spoon-feed the reader with information rather than organically weaving it in, and the plot itself feels a little withdrawn, like it’s holding key points back in service of keeping the reader invested in the arc. Perhaps it will be reconciled in issues later on, but I often felt like I didn’t have a solid grip on what was happening.

It does have its highlights, however. Seeing a majority of relatively well-realized female leads in the story was an interesting choice, and the departure away from a love struck mermaid in favour of a grander sci-fi plot does take things in a strange, albeit interesting direction.

The Little Mermaid’s artwork does a good job of visually telling the story, with panels transitioning smoothly to each other and each scene capturing the most important essence of the moment. Thick, dramatic lines and a unique blend of colors give the characters a bold look, and action is portrayed in a powerful, sweeping manner. Some of the panels feel a bit empty without much by way of background, but the character work is brilliant enough to somewhat distract for any missing detail.

littlemermaidinsert3This predominantly female cast is an interesting direction, but it also leads to some amount of breasts in virtually every panel they’re featured in. Such depictions of women often toe the line between empowering and offensive, but as we’ve seen with the recent arcs in comics like Red Sonja, so long as a woman is self-assertive and not objectified or created merely for the reader’s eye pleasure, an emphasis on the female form isn’t necessarily a negative.

Thankfully, even the most gratuitous of frames rarely depict any of the women in particularly sexualized or exploitative ways. There’s plenty of boobage, but it’s hard to see it as gross sexual pandering when the lady in question is smashing robot octopus heads.

The Little Mermaid’s first issue might leave a little too many questions for me to be in complete love with it, but solid visuals, a creative re-imagining, and an intriguing story are enough to keep me interested in what unfolds within the next few issues.

Robyn Hood vs. Red Riding Hood One Shot Review

Robyn Hood vs. Red Riding Hood One Shot Review

I try not to judge books by their cover but with Robyn Hood vs. Red Riding Hood’s unevenly drawn, scantily clad heroines battling on the cover of this one-shot, I had my doubts before I even flipped a page. Grimm Fairy Tales is a Zenescope staple, a collection of re-imagined fairy tale characters, heavily weighted towards super sexy female characters who also bring the violence in these modern retellings. Even ignoring the hyper-sexualization of these fabled characters, the art, redesign, and new origins simply did nothing for me. So, I am admittedly not the most unbiased person to review this book. That being said, I think that fans of this series will really enjoy Robyn Hood vs. Red Riding Hood.

It’s a decent enough setup for these two to battle, with Red Riding Hood deciding to track down Robyn Hood for her past misdeeds. No, not the rebellion that usurped King John’s throne in the Myst realm, it seems there were also some murders back here on Earth that Robyn is responsible for. I’m sure fans of Robyn know all about her motivations for these grisly killings, but new fans will also learn what happened by the end of this crossover. Pat Shand treads the line between laying the characters history out for readers and leaving mystery well, though both leads read very similar and their motivations and story are oversimplified. Shand spends time in the story with each heroine to give them some depth but there are not really any surprises in these women’s back-story. However, there are lots of action-packed panels to make up for it.

After a gratuitous costume change scene with Red, we meet Robyn and the action starts shortly thereafter. These two are evenly matched, so the fights are not one sided, although they can be confusing at times. Some panels cut too quickly from one pose to another: not usually a problem but in this case they are so different, it’s hard to tell what happened in between. Good action scenes are smooth and readers’ minds fill in any blanks that may exist. Struggling to figure out how one character escaped another’s grasp without any visual cues beforehand throws off the pacing of the book. It happened a few times in this issue, along with some clumsy looking sword fighting, so while there was a lot of action, it wasn’t always very well done.

Overall, this book brings no surprises to the Grimm Fairy Tales universe but I don’t think that was really the point. Having Robyn Hood and Red Riding Hood face off was obviously fan service, and it succeeds at that. If you’re a regular reader of this series, I think you’ll be satisfied. If you’re not, I doubt you’ll lose sleep if you pass on Robyn Hood vs. Red Riding Hood.

 

The Theater (Comic) Review

The Theater (Comic) Review

I wasn’t expecting much from The Theater and it only slightly surpassed that. Most of Zenescope’s titles are not very well written and… gratuitous, shall we say, with their artwork. The Theater turned out to be an ok read, interesting albeit very predictable at times. The premise is simple: there is an independent theater and people go to see a variety of films there. There’s a heavy dose of cliché horror concepts throughout each film but that’s the nature of the genre. Some films are better than others, and a few border on really great concepts (Memoirs of a Serial Killer stood out the most to me). A zombie flick and a few psychological thrillers are featured but overall it feels very much like The Twilight Zone with a splattering of horror.

The Theater delves into the world of each film for most of the chapter, with brief moments of real world character interaction before and after the movie concludes. There’s some unsettling but unexplained creepy events happening in the real world when the film ends. They’re seemingly random and unnecessary but I kept plugging through it, hoping there would be an underlying thread that started to explain it all. Nope. Nothing that actually ties everything together in a way that makes sense. There’s a reveal that doesn’t make an impact because you don’t really recognize or are afraid of who/what is revealed. The threat does not match the buildup of tension. It’s the plot equivalent of “Bad people do bad things to other people” with no exploration of why or how or even who these people are. Certainly not enough to hold my interest to keep reading beyond this TPB.

theater.jpgThe films themselves were interesting enough, even if the overall story line wasn’t. The execution of the concepts introduced in the films doesn’t quite succeed though. That’s perhaps partially due to making each film (which could be spread across two issues) fit within one chapter. Some feel a bit rushed, with plenty of room for expansion to make the characters more interesting. However, the major pitfall is that the art is so bland it doesn’t evoke the kind of reactions from readers it should to really do the concepts justice. Characters sometimes look like different people from panel to panel and background details like buildings are simplified to boxes that don’t align properly, making the landscape look disjointed and confusing. There are even panels where preliminary figure lines (which artists use to establish basic body structures like the spine or head size) weren’t removed in the final pass, so there are people in the background with random lines bisecting them. It’s sloppy and distracting, taking you out of the story.

Some readers may like the art style and or be able to see past it and still enjoy the book. The writing itself is decent, with some pretty funny bits of dialogue like this one:

Have I ever told you I would have your babies? Seriously, I would give birth through my penis. I love you that much.

That made me chuckle out loud and there are a few other low-brow gems in there. I’d give another of Raven Gregory’s books a chance, especially if another publisher picked it up, as I think the concepts are pretty neat. Overall though? The story in The Theater suffers from a lack of cohesion between the films, monotonous art, and characters you don’t really care about. If you want to turn your brain off and zone out with silly horror stories, Theater may be what you’re looking for.

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Jungle Book #1 Review

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Jungle Book #1 Review

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!