Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #3 (Radical Comics)

Ian Edginton and Stjepan Sejic bring their mature reimagining of the classic Aladdin tale to a satisfying conclusion.

 

68 pgs., color; $4.99
(W : Ian Edginton; A: Stjepan Sejic)
With issue #3, Radical Comics brings their retelling of the Aladdin tale to a satisfying conclusion. I’ve enjoyed several previous Radical series including City of Dust and Hotwire, but Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost is the best melding of story and artistic style I have yet to see from this publisher. All Radical Comics are fully-painted, but Aladdin makes particularly good use of the expressive possibilities this style allows, mixing the realistic and fantastic along with the light and the dark in just the right proportions. Aladdin also has a nice way of upping the ante with each installment so the story builds in tension while also building up a sense of the fictional universe.
Ian Edginton’s version of the familiar tale is quite different from the Walt Disney kid-friendly animation you are probably familiar with. In Edginton’s telling, Aladdin is an epic adventure tale for adults (or mature teenagers) with an anti-hero at the center of a world full of villains and danger and magic. It takes place in an exotic setting well supplied with both splendor and menace conveyed with the kind of glamour once associated with old-fashioned Hollywood blockbusters.  Interestingly enough (if one can trust Wikipedia), the original tale was set in China and was not part of the Arabian Nights collection until added by a French translator. Wisely, however, Edginton and the artists (Patrick Reilly in #1, Reilly and Stjepan Sejic in #2, and Sejic in #3) set the Chinese location aside and provide a fantasy Middle Eastern setting of turbans and scimitars and Arabic inscriptions.
I have Mad Men on the brain since I’ve been catching up with the show on DVD, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the first thing I see is the obvious similarities of Aladdin and Don Draper. Seriously. Both have the most ignoble of origins, became accustomed to fending for themselves from an early age, have a certain self-serving amorality, and are smart enough to make a go of it. Just like Don, Aladdin achieves success (he’s a wealthy prince by issue #2) but he can never let down his guard because it’s a wicked world out there, outsiders are not wanted and danger lurks all around.
OK, enough with the television metaphors. In the first issue of Edginton’s Aladdin, our hero is a street tough lured into helping the evil sorcerer Qassim steal the magic lamp. After delivering the goods, he narrowly escapes being killed by Qassim’s minions and is granted three wishes by a fierce-looking djinn. In the second issue, Aladdin has become a rich prince living in the city of Shambhalla and is set to marry the beautiful princess Soraya until Qassim kidnaps her and frames Aladdin, who has to enlist the aid of the legendary Sinbad as well as the Mantis Queen to save his neck and try to get his bride back.
Which brings us to issue #3. There are actually two djinns in this story: one in the lamp (which Qassim has, along with Princess Soraya) and one in a ring (which Aladdin has).  Qassim wants the ring and Aladdin wants Soraya so you know there’s going to be a showdown. But first Aladdin must learn about his Aramaspi heritage:  it seems he comes from a race of sorcerers done in by the corrupting nature of their own powers as well as the evil doings of Qassim. So on top of the current dispute, there are old scores to settle that add extra spice to the final battle, which is as big and splendid as it needs to be to end the story on an appropriately high note. This series seems like a good bet for a movie adaptation and let’s just hope it doesn’t get ruined in the process.
Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #3 includes a preview of Legends: The Enchanted. You can see some of the art for Aladdin on the Radical web page http://www.radicalpublishing.com/titles/comics/aladdin. | Sarah Boslaugh

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