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Royal Reviews: Radical Premiere: Mata Hari

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Friday, September 03 2010 and posted in Reviews

Radical Comics has released a preview of their upcoming Mata Hari OGN, and Royal Nonesuch has your review!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:


Creator and Writer RICH WILKES

Price: $1.00
Page Count: 24
Format: Full Color

From Rich Wilkes (xXx), a look into the most notorious woman of her time, Mata Hari, debuting in a special $1.00 Radical Premiere, previewing the upcoming graphic novel.

What is the secret story behind femme fatale Mata Hari, the most famous female spy in the world? Through the account of a humble eighteen-year-old girl, discover the secrets of the famous heroine, her covert missions and the love that made her lose everything.


Historical fiction seems to be a fun sandbox to play in for writers.  Mining a very real past for material for modern stories has made for some great, compelling entertainment.  In fact, the real testament to the power of storytelling is the fact that such a genre as "historical fiction" can exist.  It looks like an oxymoron, but the fact is, history is the world's greatest unreliable narrator.  The old adage says that it's "written by the winners," but so much of it isn't even written at all.  Our past is pretty incomplete, with so much of "the real story" unknown.  There are shades and subtleties that aren't captured by textbooks and archives, so history is pretty wide open and ready to be used as a basis for fiction. 

That seems to be what Radical Comics' upcoming OGN MATA HARI is all about, if the preview featured in their newest Premiere is any indication.  While most historical fiction in comics simply uses a figure from the past as the star of a generic adventure story, writer Wilkes uses a different tactic focusing on storytelling itself.  The star of this story isn't Mata Hari herself, but on the narratives that surrounded her and World War I, not only in their time, but what they mean to the world today.  The story makes some interesting statements about the nature of historical narrative; specifically how World War I is so thoroughly buried in favor of the sexier WWII, and yet ingrained in our modern lives today.  The clever turn of the screw sets up what hopefully will fulfill a lot of promise in the fictionalized portion of the story. 

It's hard not to know what to expect visually from Radical Comics.  They employ a variety of fine pencillers, but the type of weighty painted colors featured here and in so many of their books are leading to a type of house style in the art department.  That's not to say it doesn't work for their projects, though.  Kimpel does a good job with the painting, but what's really interesting in the artwork is the way Martinez brings a collage aesthetic to some of the pages.  He combines literal storytelling and visual metaphors, along with a great use of iconography, to bring added depth to the story in a fascinating way.  His sequential storytelling is also rather strong, despite some stiffness in the first few pages.

This preview of MATA HARI contains the first act of a larger story, and it brings up some interesting ideas that are worth following up on.  It's a story that's off to a promising start, anyway. 

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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