It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Radical’s luscious books, as is anyone who looks at them really, and with the good news that a new volume of Steve Pugh’s excellent Hotwire lands in July, I’m a happy man indeed.
And on that note, Aladdin #3 concludes another great, and great looking, entry in Radical’s line up. Written by Ian Edginton with art by Stjepan Sejic, this has been a well crafted tale. It’s the kind of series that doesn’t demand attention, in that it’s not a high concept book (like Radical’s The Last Days of American Crime) and it doesn’t resort to cheap storytelling tricks and ‘mature’ updates of a myth to generate readers. It’s simply an attractive and accessible well structured story and unfortunately that’s all too are these days.
This final issue concludes the previous two (umm..obviously) but its simplicity means that every issue can be dove into without trying to rack your brain regarding what happened in the last installment. However, for those new to this title – Aladdin is a bit of a no hoper and a thief when he discovers a magical ring, meets wise adventurer Sinbad, tries to rescue Princess Soraya from the evil wizard Qassim and finally journeys to the undreground city where he and Sinbad get betrayed by the Mantis Queen. Kind of like Star Wars in the Middle East, but not really.
Edginton has used the familiarity of the legend including the titular hero, and wish granting djinn as the first steps on a grander epic. Throwing in surprises such as the appearance of Sinbad is just a nice bonus. The attack on Sinbad’s ship opens the issue, as Aladdin gets eventual aid from the djinn in his magical ring, who has a connection to the other djinn…the one in the lamp from the first issue, which is now held by Qassim’s greedy fingers.
Where this issue differs from the previous issues is its more hectic (though never harried) pace, the introduction of a few more scary beasts, the greater use of magic and the examples of love, and the heroism or selfishness it brings.
Sejic shines as always, quite literally, with his landscapes and dazzling cities looking like they belong in a Prince of Persia film as if made by Peter Jackson. He’s one of the industry’s brightest and most consistent artists and his sense of design when it comes to characters and layouts, holds immense visual appeal.
The other thing I noticed with this issue was Edginton’s approach to dialogue. With an ancient-set story like this it could easily become a bad mix of Shakesperean talk via the mouth of Thor, but thankfully there’s nothing like that here. It somehow feels old and I don’t mean because there’s no iPhone references. Every character speaks with the kind of purpose and heroism, and villainy, that you’d expect and want from a Middle Eastern epic journey.