The idea of mythology leading back before there was a nature of history (written that is) is an interesting conundrum. The balance of what society necessitates as the norm has shifted over the millennia depending on the structure of belief. “Zarathrustra Book One – The Lion That Carried The Flame” [Richard Marazano/Europe/60pgs] rests in an ideal of a matriarchal dominated society that fueled the idea of business and a monotheistic structure. The story takes place in the area that now occupies Iran. The texture of the gender perspective contained in the story is also a pertinent one. The beginning of this take of a monotheistic transformation speaks to a man looking to escape his past and living a balanced future. His past though follows him as a scourge led by a supposed manevolent God. When the army following this icon ransacks his desert town, it kills everyone. Our soldier saves only himself and the lead female ruler in the city that looks upon him as fodder. They escape into the desert. But the Army continues to search for one who has been marked. While there are textures of Aslan in the representation of the entities, the archetypes are true to form and the art reflects this without overindulging in its tendencies yet giving a sense of space and reflection. The story structure is told as a parable as the older soldier is now telling his story to his son. While this is only the first book, it’s point of view is sound but also resolute and focused giving the story a sense of will.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of anti-heroes struggling against their powers is nothing new but the aspect of approaches to redemption can always different according to states of being. Like the upcoming “Dark Phoenix”, Jasmine in “Jasmine: Crown Of Kings” [Howard Mackie/Xenoscope/146pgs] doesn’t seem to have a full conception of her powers. However she is wracked by a sense of memory loss. She sees past pieces of her life as an immortal “jinn”, a form of genie who casts death and destruction in ancient times at the bidding of their masters. They were former slaves who now are free of those chains and want to find power on their own. The journey from slave to jinn is actually the more interesting story. The story in this volume of events is all about struggle for power but not necessarily the reason to shy away from it. The story does play on the popularity of “Game Of Thrones” while mixing in the coming of “Aladdin”. The issue is that the actual progression of the story is not deep enough with stakes to connect to make it feel meaningful. The dialogue is alright but sometimes overwrought with too much attention placed on story details in the words and not as much in simple imagery which in this form tends to work better. Also the establishment on Arcane Acre is not formed enough to give a true perception of its purpose (like say with “X-Men”). The cornerstone of the story is a battle between two would be sisters who were brought together out of threat instead of by need. The disconnection is ultimately what undoes the story because even with her betrayer Ali. Jasmine’s truth just doesn’t seem as inspired as it could be.
By Tim Wassberg
Sirk TV Graphic Novel Review: THE DREAMING VOL. 1 – PATHWAYS & EMANATIONS (THE SANDMAN UNIVERSE) [Vertigo/DC]
The aspect of a dream world and how the different perceptions of real play into ideas of conscience but also consciousness is something that Neil Gaiman has been dealing with for many years. The ideal within “The Dreaming Vol. 1 – Pathways & Emanations” [Si Spurrier & Neil Gaiman/Vertigo/200pgs] involves the breakdown of that structure. Whole different characters take the narrator form at certain points based on the idea that different metaphors and points of view come to bear during the story. The angle is a good one placed within the fact of an almost meta approach where Nora is foul mouthed and fun and just wants to be left alone but she can turn into a raging monster when she wants to. The key within her story is signifying what is real and what is not. Her approach is simply one of survival and yet Dream which seems to be a form of Lucifer in a way wants to help her find her true potential. However, he then summarily leaves the game. The different creatures that come to bear as well as myths like Cain & Abel have a quality of dementia to them in an almost wonderful way in that instinct becomes the prevailing nature overall. Nora however propels the aspect of what the story is about which about control over dreams. She integrates the personages of the blanks whom a character called Pumpkinhead refers to as The Soggies. They are made of dream matter and supposedly just mimic other dream thoughts but what comes about is that they can be lead and have a will at times of their own. That underlying metaphor propels the story in many ways without feeling overbearing. Ultimately the reflective nature specifically in how it relates to the librarian and the almost fated path of Nora offers a fitting end but also cliffhanger to what the continued vision of this dreamworld might be.
By Tim Wassberg