A look at three recent single-issue releases: Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #1, The Talisman: The Road of Trials #3, and the video game tie-in Army of Two #1.
Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #1 (Radical Comics)
60 pgs., color; $4.99
(W: Ian Edginton; A: Patrick Reilly)
The Talisman: The Road of Trials #3 (Del Rey Comics)
28 pgs., color; $3.99
(W: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Robin Furth; A: Tony Shasteen
Army of Two #1 (IDW Publishing)
26 pgs., color; $3.99
(W: Peter Milligan; A: Dexter Woy, Jose Marzan, Jr.)
Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost is a new mini-series from Radical Comics which reinterprets the story (Aladdin and the lamp and the genie and all that) as a dark tale of a young reprobate trying to make his way in a world of danger. This is not the Disney version, in other words: Radical’s Aladdin is a thief and a con artist who was raised in a brothel and now lives by his wits in the city of Shambhalla, where ordinary human evil is augmented by magic.
In the first of three issues Edginton introduces Aladdin, Captain Sinbad (who sometimes serves as his guardian angel) and the evil sorcerer Qassim (not a man you can trust to keep a bargain), who hires Aladdin to recover the magic lamp from a cave full of menacing giant scorpions. We also get to meet Qassim’s enforcers, monsters which look like giant, toothy eels and are more efficient than Dr. Guillotin’s invention because they dispose of the bodies after killing them. Patrick Reilly’s painted art establishes the perfect tone of menace for this tale (just about every location seems to be dark and cavernous) and effectively conveys the mad scramble which is Aladdin’s life. This issue includes a preview of The Last Days of American Crime (written by Rick Remember, art by Greg Tocchini), a hard-boiled mini-series set in the near future. You can check out a preview of Aladdin at http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=4362.
Things have gotten seriously dark in issue #3 of The Talisman: The Road of Trials, the adaptation of the novel of the same name by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Our young hero Jack is in the Territories, the magical world which seems to have been imagined by the Society for Creative Anachronism and where nearly everyone in the normal world (the one we live in) has a double. Jack is searching for The Talisman which will save the life of his mother and her Territories double, but he’s having a stretch of bad luck, beginning with falling into the clutches of the evil Captain Osmond. The art is scary and the Disney rule that bad people are ugly and good people are handsome or pretty is applied with a vengeance. There are some really nice imaginative touches, including a guy with a codpiece made from a wolf’s head and a splendid team of horses, but this is mainly a transition issue to move the story to the next big event. This issue includes an informative interview with artist Tony Shasteen and an inked page for issue #4.
Army of Two is a new collaboration between EA (Electronic Arts Inc., an interactive entertainment software company) and IDW and will be released both in paper and ink format and on digital platforms including the iPhone/iPod Touch. It’s an updated war comic about two mercenaries, Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios, former U.S. Army rangers now working for the private military contractor Trans World Operations (TWO, get it?). In issue #1, they’re dispatched to Mexico to assist the Mexico army in putting down an alliance between a drug cartel and a street gang called the Maras.
Army of Two is a regular festival of masculinity: our mercenary heroes are cut like bodybuilders (and Salem sports some serious tattoos) and they love to trash-talk each other, but they are really so solidly bonded that they won’t allow a woman to come between them. The Mexican gang members are almost as muscular and sport some impressive Mike Tyson-style tattoos, and of course there’s lots of weaponry and explosions and blood. The only female of any note is Alice, a secretary in the TWO office who’s beyond cute and knows it. The art is impressive within the conventions: you can tell who is good or bad just by looking at them and Soy comes up with a lot of different ways to present what is basically guys blowing stuff up, punctuated by bonding moments. You can check out a preview here: http://www.idwpublishing.com/news/article/975/. | Sarah Boslaugh