Thanks for checking out my latest edition of Just Another Zenescope Monday or JAZM. This week we will be reviewing the full series of Cinderella: Age of Darkness and several other issues. But, first, a little rant and educational announcement.
Each week, Zenescope Entertainment publishes some high quality comics with powerful female characters. I think that there are many people who get hung up on the covers and feel that the inside of the book and the stories must be nothing more than soft porn. Those people, while entitled to their opinions, commit the classic faux pas of judging a book by its cover. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. No reason to show how big an idiot you are by trying to degrade and belittle something that you have no actual knowledge about. But, that seems to be the true definition of the internet anymore. The anonymity of the screen allows people to saw anything they want, with no regards to etiquette, manners, or even repercussions of their own actions.
Let’s get on with the reviews, shall we? I thought it best to catch you up on some of the issues leading up to this week’s titles.
Cinderella: Age of Darkness #1 – Cindy was an assassin for the Horde, in service to the Dark One, but answering to the Dark Queen. Then she messed up and has now been reassigned. The Dark Queen wants all the gods dead and the only one still alive is the god of the dead, Hades. Cindy had one job… and now she is in the Dark Queen’s dungeon awaiting punishment. We get a little backstory on Cinderella, a spoiled rich sorority girl who was given power by Malec, the Dark One, and now has a taste for death and destruction. Meanwhile, Hades shows himself as he was hiding out in the Paradiso as a servant of Morgana. All he wants to do is get revenge on her for what he sees as her betrayal of him and his loved ones. The Dark Queen gives Cindy one last chance; collect three weapons and hunt down Hades. The weapons, a bone dagger that drains an enemy, an icicle wand that freezes enemies, and Hades’ bident, are the only things that can slow down and capture Hades. Of course, at each point along her trip she is told that she is destined to fail and should just take the weapons and run. No one has a lot of confidence in Cindy’s abilities. What will happen to her as she launches on this fool’s crusade? My Rating: 4.5/5
Cinderella: Age of Darkness #2 – Hades’ gambit with Morgana paid off as the potion that he drank took him right to the Dark Queen as she is hunting the Bandersnatch. Her mistake was using hydra, denizens of the underworld, and creatures that Hades can control. While Hades wages his war against the Dark Queen and the Horde, Cindy travels to Dracula’s Castle, the last place that she knows of that Hades was seen. While sifting through the ashes, she comes face to face with Dracula himself. He tells her things that she would rather not hear. Back at the battle, Hades meets up with Alicia, the Mistress of Limbo. Suffice it say their meeting is short and the point. Dracula gives Cindy a much needed pep talk, Hades lives to fight another day, and next issue… A ball! My Rating: 4/5
Cinderella: Age of Darkness #3 – NEW THIS WEEK! The finale of this great mini-series! Cindy has set up a trap for Hades that he will not be able to resist… all of his enemies in one place, a grand ball in honor of the Dark Queen. What she doesn’t know is that the Queen is sending her generals to carry out the death sentence on Cindy’s head. As Hades arrives and the battle begins, all hell is about to break loose. There are some pretty great deaths in this issue and the ending is quite a changing of the guard. Pat Shand’s writing on this series has been really good. I enjoyed the way that it was in keeping with the craziness of the character but still gives us the glimpse into the human side of Cindy and possibly her future in the Realms. The conflict between Malec and the Dark Queen is getting deeper. Ryan Best continues some amazing artwork, definitely striving for the high quality that Zenescope requires in all their work. My Rating: 5/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Tales From Oz #4 – This series is made up of individual stand-alone issues that tell part of a story, usually focusing on an origin or important backstory. This issue is focused on telling the tale of Glinda and Smynth as they are on the run from mystical blasts from Zamora, who is supposed to be their best friend but has been corrupted by the Dark One. When they both get blasted, the curse that was hurled effects both characters, but we finally have an explanation of why Smynth now looks like a rat person. And a not so clear answer to why Glinda’s clothes are so tight. Glinda and Smynth know that they need help so they seek the assistance of Dr. Grafft. Will he be able to help them? Only if Glinda and Smynth undertake a massive quest to collect some very unique items. Be on the lookout for some very funny references to Doctor Who and The Princess Bride. My Rating: 4.5/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Tales From Oz #5 -With this issue, we shift to a tale of Adraste, the shapeshifting apprentice that was forced on Glinda by the council. This is sort of an origin tale, in the aftermath of the Warlord’s battle with, and seeming slaying of, Glinda. The one problem is that, instead of allowing young fresh recruits to be apprenticed, the council chooses to allow those who are more troubled to be taken on. These failed students are called the Felgrau. Sort of a Harry Potter feel to this issue, and I felt a little bit lost as the last issue ended abruptly with Glinda and Smynth being pulled into Zamora’s court, but then I remembered that each issue is a standalone story and that tale continues somewhere else. I must say that this is another issue chock full of fun pop culture references. Even an awesome Star Trek reference. I was rolling through the whole issue. Very fun. And the ending is a pleasant shock for any fan of Oz. My Rating: 5/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Tales From Oz #6 – NEW THIS WEEK! A tale of Zamora. I really like these origin stories. They are great jumping on points for any new or old reader of the Zenescope line. This is a tale of Zamora before the influence of the Dark One corrupted her. We can still see the makings of a powerful witch in the young girl, daughter of a Realm Knight, but we also see the troubled girl that she was develop into the strong friend and trusted companion that she becomes. Her love for Lugg is clearly what helped to keep her balanced, as she says. This is a solid tale of the foundations of the current situation of the Realms and the twist ending is nothing to miss. This may be a glimpse into the reasons behind the new Arcane Acres. My Rating: 4.5/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #28 – Callie Liddle has taken up the mantle of leadership of Wonderland and is doing all she can to reign in the madness. Now she is tracking down a lost child in the wilderness with the help of Dark Cheshire and the White Rabbit. This rabbit hole just gets darker and darker as the realm of Earth proves even more sadistic than Wonderland. The evil in the house down the street is revealed but what, if anything , does it have to do with the Savage that Callie and her crew must face? And who is the little boy who keeps troubling them? We may soon find out that connection. My Rating: 4/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #29 – Callie and her friends, Dark Cheshire and White Rabbit, are fighting with the Savage. The fight is vicious, but does not last long. The boy, who barely speaks any English, gets his point across that this creature, the Savage, is his mother. This stays the huge cat’s jaws and causes him to spare the Savage’s life. The story only gets more complicated as we see that the creature, who used to be a human serial killer, has a portal to Wonderland that it is using to haul its victims away from Earth. Harvesting parts for grotesque experiments, the monster is the “Man No Face” that the boy has been telling Callie about. Cheshire, Rabbit, and Callie head off to face this evil and rid Wonderland of one more crazy threat. Erica J. Helfin weaves a fine tale as Callie attempts to regain some order from the chaos. My Rating: 4.5/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #30 – The finale of Renaissance! I must say that I really love the character of Dark Cheshire. He has developed into such a deep character and has grown to be one of my favorites in this series. Meanwhile, the hunt for the evil surgeon continues. Callie and Cheshire leap into his dark domain and take him on, face to face. He is definitely one who has been infected by the madness of Wonderland. The battle is short, but as all things in Callie’s life so far, this one ends with aspects of both sadness and hope. In the end, the young girl is returned, evil is vanquished, and all is right with the world… for now. The two young boys decide to stay in Wonderland and may yet find a purpose serving their new queen. This was a great arc as Callie was thrown right into this leadership role and had to fight from start to finish. If this keeps up, this could be my favorite Zenescope series. My Rating: 5/5
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #31 – NEW THIS WEEK! This one is a new stand-alone issue, so this is a great jumping on point for new readers. Violet Liddle, daughter of Callie, became the new Mad Hatter of Wonderland last year. This issue, she faces her greatest challenge… trying to live a normal life on Earth. Not so easy when you are the daughter of the White Queen of Wonderland and a force to be reckoned with on your own. Plus, she is just a little crazy but does a good job of keeping that in check… most of the time. So, who is it that is invading her life? The end of this issue is very interesting and this will give us some explanation into why Violet is now with Sela Mathers at Arcane Acres in the pages of Grimm Fairy Tales. A great issue as we see the inner struggle to keep the madness at bay and how, sometimes, it can be a losing battle. My Rating: 4/5
I know, I know, a lot of reviews this week, but I wanted to get you caught up on the different series before I threw you new issues. Look forward to some more great catch up articles in the coming weeks. I hope you find something here to enjoy and can see how deep some of these stories go, getting into the personal relationships of the characters and making a solid universe and not just a bunch of disjointed books that carry the same publisher’s name. Zenescope Entertainment does a great job of creating consistent quality stories that keep me coming back. Ten years of success is nothing to sneeze at. Until next week.