This is by far my favorite new series this year from Aspen (so far). Yes a great deal of that is due to the art, but I’m also enjoying the story and the world that it’s creating. This issue in particular stalls the progress of the plot some, but it has a TV quality to it because of that. It actually ends up being a good thing because the way the first issue set up things between Ara and her mother it seemed like it would be a long time until we had some resolution. The issue kicks off with Ara and Nylese exiting into a desert area. Nylese asks about Ara’s kingdom Janna and Ara describes it as any other great city. Nylese lets her know that she’s never been in a city and has only lived in nomad camps. Ara strangely feels no compassion for her, but takes pity on herself since she’s basically in the same boat now. The story flashes back to Janna and King Graim’s attack on the city. We see the big ass Genie from the first issue attacking and killing everyone in his path without pity or remorse. Ara and her mother are running throughout the palace; her mother hides her in a storage room and tells her to stay in no matter what. Her mom then runs into some ninja warrior dudes (not the cool ones from the show that fall in water and have great upper body strength), she’s about to go all genie on them when the evil King Graim pulls out her vessel and summons her back inside. As Graim takes off having what he wants, the ninja dudes bust in and find Ara. In her panic and fear she transforms for the first time into her kick ass genie form and beats their asses… probably kills them too, but who knows.
From there Ara and Nylese come across a small village to rest for a moment, but no sooner than arriving Ara takes on a task. A woman with foresight has lost her vision due to a monster that took her child long ago and now lives in the dried out well. It’s killed all those before, but Ara is unlike any to attempt the feat.
The backstory was good and I enjoyed having a few more pieces of the Ara/genie puzzle to play with, but Ara and Nylese’s relationship kind of sucks. I get why Nylese has to stick around since she’s alone and Ara kills anything that moves, but Ara is way too cold towards her. Nylese has lost all of her family and has never had a place to call home; while Ara has kidnapped family and lost her home. You’d think they’d be two peas in a pod, but instead she’s strangely cold towards her. The second half of the story was predictable, but perfect to show the hero inside of her. Even though she’s way behind her mother’s captor she still takes the time to help someone and that says a lot about her personality.
The art is an eyegasamic! Oh man every page is to die for it’s so good-looking. When Ara “Hulk’s” out for the first time it’s pretty cool. I also enjoyed that she’s walking around in full genie mode the entire time like she’s that pissed off. She’s a beautiful character, but also comes across as confident and strong at the same time. I really enjoy the thick line work of the penciling as it gives the book a great look and matches the story’s tone. The coloring is spectacular and in particular the starry looking clothing and armor that Ara wears is gorgeous. I will literally be heartbroken if the art changes on this series.
It’s not a perfect issue, but it has a ton of good going for it. I continue to love the world that it’s set in and crave more time getting to know Ara and her companion. The next issue seems like a battle is coming and I can’t wait to see what Ara can do against the giant city destroying genie that Graim has control of. This is a gorgeous series and the best part is that the story is just as good making them the perfect fit. If you missed the first issue, then what the hell is wrong with you? It was only a dollar. Pick it up on a digital storefront or in a back issue bin and get caught up on what’s currently Aspen’s best monthly title.
Writer: JT Krul Artist: Paolo Pantalena Publisher: Aspen Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/22/13