"Dance of the Dead #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Story by Joe Brusha
Written by Anne Toole
Illustrated by Enn & Ario Murti
Colored by Hedwin Zaldivar & Ceci de la Cruz
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 8th, 2017
Mary Medina (aka Mystere) is trapped in the Shadowlands, a dark realm filled with the most evil creatures mankind could imagine. She doesn't know how she got here, but she knows she has to find a way out. Meanwhile, a mysterious villain watches from afar. Also, Jasmine is here for some reason.
Continuing Mystere's story from the Day of the Dead mini-series sounds great. There are so many possibilities with this character as she struggles to figure out her place in the world and how here powers work. Dance of the Dead is split between her story and that of Jasmine (the princess from Aladdin, although nothing like the Disney version). While the concept for the character is pretty cool, she feels shoe-horned into this series, as if the creators were trying to figure out a way to introduce her and just threw her in here.
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A large portion of this issue is spent telling Jasmine's backstory and her connection to the strange pharaoh-like villain pulling strings in the background. She's a fire elemental working as a warrior / rogue for an evil queen. Again, really cool concept and the designs from artists Enn & Ario Murti pique an interest in the character. Jasmine is depicted as a warrior, like something straight out of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Her armor is protective but sexy, sort of like a Wonder Woman costume. This contrasts with her look in the present, which is casual wear with a cape and sword.
Meanwhile, Mystere always looks awesome, like a macabre priestess. Her black clothes are outlined with small bones, like how Batman's gauntlets have those little spikes on the sides. Her face is covered in black and white skull-like make-up and framed by her long, dark hair. She's like something right out of a metal album cover.
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Colorists Hedwin Zaldivar & Ceci de la Cruz set the tone of Dance of the Dead. The Shadowlands are a dark world where the sun never shines. The only real light comes from Jasmine's flames. The flashback scenes are shaded in an almost sepia tone, giving them the look of old photographs. This is a great juxtaposition to the present day scenes, as the fire is so bright and vibrant.
This first issue of Dance of the Dead takes some time to find its footing. It re-introduces Mystere and tosses Jasmine into the fray. After Day of the Dead, I am curious as to what's next for Mystere, however I don't have that interest in Jasmine yet. She feels forced into this situation and her story isn't enough to care about just yet. Hopefully the two women can help each other figure out where they should go next and how to escape the Shadowlands. In the meantime, they've got hordes of goblins, skeletons, and other assorted monsters to fight.