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Remember the animated Disney movie ALADDIN? OK, now totally forget about it. Radical Comics’ ALADDIN: LEGACY OF THE LOST is a reinterpretation of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” a story from that incredibly influential collection of Middle Eastern/South Asian stories and folklore tales, ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS. But rest assured, this isn’t your daddy’s Aladdin…
The title character himself is not the shy young boy we know from that popular film, but rather a mid-’20s antihero, alternately sly and foolish. He’s a common thief and gambler, running into trouble whereever he turns. One night, upon returning to his room, he encounters the vile Qassim, a powerful sorcerer who engages him to seek out a certain treasured item. True to the traditions of the plot, Aladdin accidentally releases from the magic lantern a giant, none-too-happy genie who’s covered in armor and tribal tattoos, and acts like he just woke from a 5,000-year hangover.
In this second issue, Aladdin masquerades as a wealthy prince from a distant land to the people of Shambhalla. The king becomes infatuated with Aladdin’s wealth, betrayal ensues, the princess gets captured and Aladdin becomes a marked man for a crime he did not commit. In the middle of this drama, we’re introduced to more characters, like the sailor Sinbad and the Mantis Queen, and treated to tons of brutally violent battles with various beasts and fantastically illustrated monsters.
The first book was written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Patrick Reilly, and the second was drawn by Stjepan Sejic. Putting two artists on one miniseries might seem to be an odd decision that would throw readers off, yet Reilly and Sejic (who will encore the third installment) seem to complement each other with a nice contrast. Reilly conveys a great sense of motion and movement while Sejic brings almost a romantic element, posing the subject in a form resembling a religious painting, with vibrant colors and toney drama. Edginton has a long résumé in the fantasy genre and hits the nail on the head, with dialogue devoid of too much cumbersome backstory along with multiple flashbacks that would prove a daunting task for anyone with less experience.
Full of cliffhangers, eerie sequences of suspense and bloody swordplay, this is intelligent fare—and certainly not for children.
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