Sinbad is the stuff of legend. In his day, Sinbad the sailor roamed the seas east of Africa and south of Asia. He visited magical places. He escaped legendary beasts. He loved the world’s most lovely women. He defeated horrific monsters. And he definitely – definitely – had his share of adventures with elements of the supernatural.
All of these traits take center stage in Zenescope Entertainment’s latest Sinbad tale, THE EYES OF FIRE.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of characters and plot. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Where do I begin?
THE EYES OF FIRE is a classically structured Sinbad story. It starts out with a voyage into adventure; the crew surmounts several obstacles in undertaking the challenge; and it all ends up back on the boat, heading out to sea for the next exciting activity. On that front, FIRE delivers exactly what it promised – a thrilling escapade with some merry swashbucklers hell-bent on reaping the spoils of their journey. Sinbad’s crew is made up from an assortment of characters – a demon, a strong-man, a blind ‘seer,’ a young warrior, a fair maiden skilled in the dark arts, and a cook who can only speak a few words. As is customary in stories of this nature, they all have a role to fill – a particular function that’s uniquely their own in this crew – and they’re each given something they need accomplish in order for Sinbad to inevitably be successful.
But scribe Dan Wickline doesn’t stop there!
Wickline sprinkles the rest of FIRE with an assortment of interesting characters – a sorcerer in command of an island paradise, her royal guard, and a grand wizard whose power originates from the element of fire. There’s plenty here to keep a reader occupied – men of muscle, voluptuous women, maidens of fire, a volcano threatening to erupt – and the main story is greatly served by Wickline’s command of this world.
Still, there was something a touch amiss in this first volume of Sinbad’s adventures, and, while I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, I’d have to say that I wasn’t all that enamored with our dramatic lead himself. This Sinbad appears to have the general bulk of today’s professional wrestlers, and his expressions – especially when he’s leering at a lovely lady – just doesn’t quite look socially acceptable. Granted, these were different times – as the opening proclaims, “It was the time of Sinbad” – but I still don’t like cheering for a hero who so openly leers at women. Maybe that’s just me being an old fuddy-duddy because I am rather old; I’ve been called a bit ‘fuddy’; and I’ve no doubt I may be more than fifty shades ‘duddy.’ Sinbad’s behavior didn’t put me off so much that I tossed the tale aside. I guess it’s just that, despite that reality of his swashbuckling, I’d rather have him behave a bit more ‘cowboy’ when it comes to treating women with respect. (In fact, one of his early speeches in the first chapter addresses how women should be treated, so maybe that’s why I was so taken back when he behaves so disproportionately later on in the same collection.)
However, I’m not entirely sure what happened somewhere along the way because the look of the comic changes fairly dramatically over the course of these seven parts (issues #0 - #6). The comic industry can be notorious for turnover – that’s not to say anyone was fired, just that perhaps they moved on to other properties – and, clearly, this tale opens with one group of artists while it closes with another. For my tastes, I prefer how the tale ended up (bolder colors, not so many sinewy lines on Sinbad and the many characters). Some of the earlier artwork seemed overly detailed to the point of ridiculousness; thankfully, a new crew toned it down a bit. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the storytelling changed a bit in the final two issues as things happened a bit more quickly (and maybe a bit recklessly?) as it doesn’t quite end up with the same attention to detail that it all began.
Who knows where it’ll all head? Well, Sinbad and his crew are back aboard his ship, and they’re sailing the high seas … so, undoubtedly, wherever they end up, I suspect there will be an all-new exploit.
1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS: THE ADVENTURES OF SINBAD: THE EYES OF FIRE is published by Zenescope Entertainment. The story is written by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dan Wickline (though Wickline’s name appears prominently as the only scribe from the cover); the art is provided by Gus Vasquez (Issue 0), Paolo Pantalena (Issue 1, 2), Tone Rodriguez (Issue 3), Ron Adrian (Issue 4), Eduardo Ferigato (Issue 5), Rod Pereira (Issue 6), and Alexandre Benhossi (Issue 6); the coloring is provided by Garry Henderson (Issue 0) and Nei Ruffino (Issue 1, 3), Kieran Oats (Issue 2, 4) and Zac Atkinson (Issue 4, 5, 6); and lettering is provided by Alphabet Soup’s Jim Reddington (Issue 0, 1) and Alphabet Soup’s Michael de Lepine (Issue 2, 3) and Crank! (Issue 4, 5, 6). Also, there’s a brief but brilliant introduction provided by popular comics writer Brian Holguin; it kinda/sorta helps set the perspective for Sinbad, where he comes from, and his role in pop culture. Lastly, there’s an expansive cover gallery, and it’s clear Zenescope issued many variations on artwork for these seven collected issues. Some very nice work, indeed.
RECOMMENDED. As a wee lad, I can remember marveling to the adventures of the legendary Sinbad – what is it with thieves that make them so entertaining to watch? – and, thankfully, Zenescope Entertainment’s 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS: THE ADVENTURES OF SINBAD: THE EYES OF FIRE is a solid read. While there are elements of his characterization I didn’t much care for, scribe Dan Wickline weaves a tale at once magical and, at other times, treacherous. The dramatic change in art styles put me off a bit, and the ending felt a bit rushed compared to what came before, but that’s a minor setback to an otherwise inspired look back into the days of magic, mayhem, and mystery!
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