In Review: Jasmine: Crown of Kings #1

Your wish for high adventure and exotic locales is granted.

The covers: Twelve different covers for the first magical issue of this series. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Adriano Augusto. On the ledge on the side of a building that’s high in a city, Jasmine struts toward the reader haughtily. She’s wearing her battle togs and the look on her face says she’s ready for business. A night time view of the city, complete with a full moon, is behind her. Nicely done. The B cover by Riveiro has the title character looking like a jinn as she waves her flaming sword around her to make the Forty Thieves back. The flames are done well, Jasmine looks great, and the terrorists in the foreground look good. This is a nice taste of what’s to be found within. The “Good Girl” cover is the C by Kevin McCoy and Sanju Nivangune which features a very sexy Jasmine wearing very, very little. She has on a neck piece, armbands, matching metal pieces covering some of her chest, and a slim piece on her pelvis. Jasmine has a hand under her chin and the other on the side of her face adding to her inquisitive visage. This is fantastic and the colors are also strong. This was the cover I purchased. The next cover, the D by Ian Richardson and Hedwin Zaldivar, is an image that has me scratching my head because I don’t know who this character is. I’m guessing this is a villain who’s using energy from his hands to blast a foe before him into a burning skeleton. Behind him flames leap about from the victims he’s already set aflame that are writhing about. Great image and great coloring, but who is this? The E cover is a stunner by Leonardo Colapietro. Standing at a three quarters view, Jasmine stands with a sword in each hand, her lips parted in a snarl. Behind her is an incredibly trippy golden backdrop, like a lavish balcony, with windows that are showing Jasmine smiling. This is beautiful and the colors are amazing in bright colors. This is one I have to track down. A nice change of pace is the F Blank Sketch cover. This features the title, publisher, and issue number at the top, with the subtitle at the bottom right. This is a great way to get a one of a kind, unique cover by having an artist draw on it or to have the book’s creators sign it. Great idea, but on its own, not much to look at. There are six other covers to get, but I couldn’t find any images of them online. They include the Zenescope Exclusive (Limited to 250 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis, the Wizard World Philly Exclusive (Limited to 250) by Chatzoudis, a VIP Exclusive (Limited to 100) by Keith Garvey, the Phoenix Comic Con Exclusive (Limited to 250/100) by Mike Debalfo and Ula Mos, and the Motor City Comic Con Exclusive (Limited to 350) by David Nakayama. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A B, B A, C A+, D B+, E A+, and F C

The story: Four individuals crafted the concept of this book, Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Howard Mackie, with Mackie writing the issue. In the lost city of Petra, thieves are running about within. One named Ahmed is carrying an object wrapped in a red cloth. He’s pursued by his terrorist brothers: the Forty Thieves. Their leader, Ali Baba, orders him to give him what he carries. Ahmed replies quietly, “The legend of the Crown has been passed from the fathers of my father’s father. I am the only one of us who has the right.” Seeing Ahmed beginning to unwrap the crown, Ali orders his men back. Just as Ahmed sees the glowing headpiece he screams and there’s an explosion. “I did warn him,” Ali says. “Down to thirty-nine. Looks like we’ll be looking for a new recruit.” On the other side of the world at Arcane Acre, Jasmine has a vision in her sleep of a flaming crown. She wakes, realizing that this is a secret she must keep from Shang. The story returns briefly back to Petra where the thieves are doing Ali’s bidding. Then it’s back to Arcane Acre where Jasmine receives some assistance after having a quick trip down memory and then she uses some unique, but fitting, transportation to get to Petra. Once there a skirmish occurs, with Ali making some surprising and welcome reactions to Jasmine’s interruption. This was an enjoyable read at this point, I was satisfied, but then the story introduces some different threats and they were great to see. Faster than you can say “Ray Harryhausen” there’s a bigger fight and the tale goes off to a new locale with the promise of another fight. I liked the characters and the action, with the title character’s backstory delivered to the reader easily. This was a solid introductory issue and I’m looking forward to more. Overall grade: A 

The art: I was very nervous with the visuals of this book by Deivis Goetten because the first panel shows Petra and it’s fairly blurry. There’s a similar image on Page 3 and it’s just messy. I’m surprised that Goetten did this for the opening issue because the rest of the book is really well done. I breathed a sigh of relief at the second panel on the first page which shows Ahmed against a wall as those after him are about to round a corner. Ali’s introduction, accompanied by his gang, is really neat looking; I like how he’s leaning forward, clearly showing himself to the reader. The item he’s using for a light source is also very cool. The second and third panels on the third page are a nice transition between calm and something that goes horribly wrong. The bottom panel on the page is a fairly funny, given the calm demeanor of Ali and what he says, as glowing debris falls to the ground and his men stop running. The fire effects on 4 are a good tease of what’s to come later in this issue and Goetten excels at fire. The quick flashback on 6 looks great, with some neat creatures and, again, some awesome fire work. Jasmine’s exit on 7 is really cool. The layout of 8 and 9 is Goetten’s showpiece of the issue, comprised of panels that go back and forth between the present and the character’s past. 13 features a great full figured image of Jasmine and an excellent profile shot of Ali screaming. The characters that appear on 16 had me clapping my hands because comic books can’t use these individuals enough. I wanted to see more of these characters, but what Goetten has created is good and I’m glad to see that he didn’t resort to computer effects to fill the panels. There’s some decent action that follows with a really well conceptualized exit. The final page teases a new location that will be the focus of next issue’s fracas. Goetten does a good job and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Overall grade: B+

The colors: This book’s hero and villains are from the desert, so the colors Ceci de la Cruz opens the book with reflect this with tans, oranges, and browns employed for background colors. These colors allow the characters dressed in black to stand out against them, drawing the reader to focus on them. The cloth that holds the crown is a strong, Imperial red, which really stands out on the page. The glowing debris that showers the thieves is a sweet luminescent yellow. The fire effects — I know: How long am I going to harp on this? — are exceptionally well colored. The flashbacks that cover Jasmine’s past are tinted in bronze and tans to age them appropriately. The portal effects are gorgeous in neon blue and white. The energy from Ali that the reader gets just a taste of is supernatural in eerie pink. The colors on this book increase the power of the visuals. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios creates scene settings, narration, yells, dialogue, screams, sounds, a supernatural roar, and the tease for next issue. A reader knows that they’re looking at a strong letterer when the scene settings are visually impressive and those by Esposito certainly are. The font used for each locale is classic looking and placed atop a yellow line to highlight them. The yells are picture perfect, with Page 3 having a superb one. The sounds are entertaining, with FWOOK-KOOM my favorite of this issue. I’m glad to see Esposito on this book. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Your wish for high adventure and exotic locales is granted. A former jinn goes on a quest to stop a group of terrorists from assembling the pieces of a mysterious crown. Jasmine is a fun character, her foe Ali is very smart, and the visuals are good. This is another excellent book produced by Zenescope. Overall grade: A-

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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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