Review: Shahrazad #3
The Aspen relaunch of the BDI label continues as Shahrazad is released once again to a wider market. The series was one of the last ones that was published by BDI before the rights to its works was purchased by Aspen, and while its concept was an attractive one which presumably was meant to draw in new readers and give a boost to the former company’s profits, it never really fully coalesced into something meaningful. The series features the titular Shahrazad as something more than the famous narrator of the the Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Instead of describing the action she takes part in it, as an immortal character that lives a multitude of adventures across a variety of genres.
While it is a concept which sounds promising – imagine a character that has lived as a version of Maximus, Elizabeth Swan and Furiosa – it ends up being far too confusing. She does play the pirate here, except it is never really made clear where or why the giant bats come from. She is also a gladiator, but the means by which she is thrust into combat is poorly explained, nor is the reason for her to do battle. This shuffles back and forth with the steampunk pirates who have now found an airplane, which is an anachronism of one kind or another. Then back to the arena, then back to the pirate island where there is a giant rhinoceros/crab hybrid, and then back to the arena again. There is a bit of a narrative to hold it together, but it is evidently confusing.
While this might have been the series that could have saved BDI, it is a strange choice for Aspen to republish. The visuals here are fascinating, with an engaging heroine (though maybe a bit too much of the obvious) and with creatures and settings that are full of lush imagery. The problem is that the story never really catches up to it and furthermore almost seems to sacrifice itself in the name of the visual treats. If Aspen really wanted to do well by this series, they would let the creative team have another round of writing it and perhaps give them some guidance, because as it is, this series is lost in its own concept.
Story: Kim Hutchison and Kari Castor Art: Mike Krome
Story: 4.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass