Nieto reviews the latest issue of Radicals Aladdin mini. Is it worth your five bucks?
ALADDIN: LEGACY OF THE LOST #2 (2 of 3)
Writer IAN EDGINTON
Series Illustrators STJEPAN SEJIC and PATRICK REILLY
Letterers RICHARD STARKINGS and COMICRAFT’S JIMMY BETANCOURT
After his descent into the perilous caverns for the sorcerer Qassim, the thieving rogue known as Aladdin has reappeared in the city of Shambhalla. He is no longer a pauper, but a rich and decadent prince, transformed by the power of the Djinn of the Lamp! However, when Qassim exposes Aladdin and kidnaps the lovely Princess Soraya, there’s only one man Aladdin can turn to: Sinbad, the mariner of legend. With Sinbad’s help, Aladdin must journey to the hidden depths of the city to parlay with the world’s deadliest sovereign. She’ll help the duo track Qassim… but for a price far beyond even Aladdin’s imagination.
Featuring covers by Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies), Lucio Parrillo (Hulk Monster-Size Special) and a special 1:10 incentive cover from Clayton Crain (X-Force).
Radical's current line of books appear to offer excellent value for money, with just about triple the amount of pages for your (admittedly hefty) outlay of $4.99, not to mention excellent creative line-ups across the board. But do the books deliver? Looking at the second issue of Aladdin, the answer appears to be 'yes.'
As befits a writer of Ian Edginton's pedigree, the story is well told and the script is crisp and - crucially - free of cliché. Comics and films based in the Arabian Nights milieu have been known to err on the side of stilted when it comes to their characters' speech patterns, so it has been a refreshing surprise to see this book continue to avoid doing so.
The story itself twists and winds well enough, bringing in other tropes and Arabian Nights characters as need be. Edginton has been quite the magpie here, plundering aspects of many versions of this oft-told tale (including the Disney cartoon) and expanding as necessary, and this can only be a good thing. The aim is to create an epic tale as befits such an epic concept, and as such it works well. I am looking forward to issue #3, which is quite the rarity with new books nowadays, sad to say. He also manages the impressive feat of keeping the book fun and swashbuckling while still allowing it to remain relatively dark. This is not for kids, but it reminded me why I have gravitated toward this type of story from a young age.
Of course a good story well told is only half the battle, and a cinematic epic such as the one Edginton is attempting to write can't pull it off without epic artwork to match. To say that Reilly and Sejic knock it out of the park would be to damn their work with faint praise: this book is truly a thing of beauty. On a micro level the scenes are well framed, the characters expressive and the attention to detail is breathtaking but a series like this lives or dies by the bigger moments, and in this respect the art is among the best I've seen in a long while. It's hard to single any one thing out for special praise, but I was especially taken by a near full-page splash of a long staircase winding down a dark turret, the sheer grotesquerie of the Mantis Queen and of the misleading brightness of the later sequences on Sinbad's ship, the scenes' lighting belying the darkness of events peripheral to our questing heroes.
I saw no clourist credit and the art appears to be fully painted, so the assumption is that Reilly and Sejic handle the visuals entirely by themselves. This is quite an achievement, one that really ought to have the industry sitting up and taking notice.
I'll admit, I went into this book with some trepidation. Epic adventure and folklore are very easy to get wrong, and this medium has a long history of doing just that. But this is a great book, and well worth the extra money. $4.99 for 51 pages of story, plus a preview of Legends: The Enchanted? Bargain.
8 of 10
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