In Review: Shahrazad #1

If you're a fan of high adventure, you're going to be a fan of Shahrazad.

The covers: A lucky seven for this remastered edition of this title now being done jointly by Big Dog Ink and Aspen Comics. The A cover is by Mike Krome and Nei Ruffino. It features a scene from the book with Shahrazad doing battle with a monstrous squid that’s pulling her under the ocean. Good pose on her and incredibly detailed coloring, especially on those tentacles. The B is by Siya Oum showing the lieutenant on the deck of the Cyclops. This, too, is a scene from the book, and if she only knew what what’s about to occur. Decent image with a spectacular coloring job on the sky behind her. No, this isn’t a copy of Grimm Tales’ The Little Mermaid on the C cover, by J. Scott Campbell & Peter Steigerwald, but this issue does feature a mermaid. She looks helpless bound to the skeleton of a ship, doesn’t she? Again, this is in the book, and I won’t spoil what it foretells. Excellent image with beautiful coloring. The D is an AspenStore.com exclusive by Jen Broomall & Ceci Dela Cruz. This features the title character walking on the shore with the Cyclops behind her. Nice illustration but the coloring is so dark the image blobs up in several places. The Convention 2014 limited cover is by Shannon Maer showing the mermaid from the C cover free, enjoying the presence of a butterfly on her finger. Very cute, but if readers only knew…the In Your Dreams Collecetibles exclusive is by Nei Ruffino featuring a gorgeous Shahrazad and some superior coloring work–I mean, c’mon, look at that gold work! The final cover is also a wowzer, by Mike DeBalfo & Peter Steigerwald showing a stunning Shahrazad enjoying a laugh in her quarters. Beautiful. This was the image I used for this review. Overall grades: A A-, B B, C A, D B-, E A, F A+, and G A+

The story: This story goes back and forth between the present perils of Shahrazad and her past or mythical past. Written by Kim Huntchinson and Kari Castor his is a high adventure tale with the title character encountering enemies that are human and of a fantasy nature. The book begins with Shahrazad walking home with her sister after getting some water. She loved to sing to her younger sibling who would dance. Sadly, her beautiful voice caught the attention of royalty and changed the course of her life. This somber scene quickly changes to the fantastic, as three sirens are shown singing their deadly song. This causes the ocean to stir violently around the Cyclops, on which Shahrazad is a lieutenant. A hastily called meeting with the captain has a decision made and the crew are quickly on their way to adventure. This book has a nice melding of the past, present, and fantasy. The opening origin could have taken place in the classic One Thousand and One Nights, but when the story moves to the present, the Cyclops is as modern as any battleship of the present world, yet the characters are dressed like pirates, and ride giant bats as well as modern jet planes and helicopters. It’s a very imaginative mix of genres and times that creates a unique reading experience. Then there’s also the action–there’s a very strong sequence with Shahrazad, and her captain is involved in a quick sequence that surprised me. This is extremely readable and I want more. Overall grade: A

The art: Rising to the heights of this epic story are the pencils by Mike Krome. This is a highly detailed book. The opening page needs no narration to tell what is occurring, the visuals and the emotions of each character tell the story perfectly. The first panel on the first page is a nicely rendered city street straight from the ancient classic. The next pair of pages is a double-paged spread of the sirens giving their siren song. They are exactly what the myth states: beautiful women who wish to do harm to men–and they do indeed look angry as they sing their song. The Cyclops looks as though it could come out of a Tom Clancy movie. The clothes on the captain and his crew look like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. There is a perfect visual mix of influences that meld to form its own consistent reality. That got meta, didn’t it? And the bugaboo for many artists, water–and in this case, an ocean, looks amazing. The double-paged spread on Pages 8 and 9 would be a budget buster in any film. To just cut the chase, this is an awesomely drawn book with visuals that would be the envy of any title. Overall grade: A

The colors: This element of the book, rendered by Nei Ruffino, is truly stunning. The first page has a close-up of a character’s eyes and it looks photographic due to her contributions. She even colored the outside rim of the character’s eyeballs to give them the perfect depth. It’s beautiful. The water work on this book is awe inspiring. I’ve seen waves crash upon many objects in many books, but I can’t recall water that was colored with so many layers to make it, too, seem like a photograph. The sirens in their double-paged spread have incredible shading done on their skin and hair to make them look amazing. The flashback sequence on 12 and 13 is wonderfully tinted in sepia to alter readers that the past is being shown. It’s an excellent contrast to the blue-greens of the present that are happening. Sounds are also colored, making them all the more intense. Ruffino is knocking it out of the ballpark in this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, siren song, dialogue, yells, moans, sounds, and a “To Be Continued…” are all crafted by HDE. This is done outstandingly, with the sounds, especially the siren song, being standouts. Overall grade: A

The final line: If you’re a fan of high adventure, you’re going to be a fan of Shahrazad. Thrilling adventure with spectacular visuals make this a must have. Recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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