‘White Queen: Age of Darkness’ #1 Comic Review
Grimm Fairy Tales presents White Queen: Age of Darkness #1, the first issue in a three-issue tie-in series to the main Wonderland books’ Age of Darkness storyline. The first issue sets up our heroine, Calie Liddle–the titular White Queen–as a reluctant agent of the Dark Queen, who holds Calie’s daughter hostage. A hungry, tiger-like Cheshire Cat accompanies Calie on her travels. Meanwhile, The Trickster, another agent of the Dark Queen, shadows Calie and keeps her rebellious impulses in check.
The issue opens as Calie fends off remnants of the Queen of Hearts guard. She believes she may have found allies in them before The Trickster intervenes and gives her a new mission to kill some humans in the Dark Queen’s domain. Calie agrees but tries to outsmart the Dark Queen and save the people. The Dark Queen decides to teach Calie a hard lesson about defying her.
Troy Brownfield writes a tale of a character stuck between a rock and a hard place. Calie is a mother doing what she has to do to keep her child safe while still trying to find some way to stop her tormentor. This doesn’t work out well for anyone involved. He writes some fun dialogue for Cheshire and Calie that helps their dynamic. Sometimes Cheshire is a sidekick with a penchant for eating his foes while other times he doles out advice for Calie like a mentor.
I’m not too familiar with the Grimm Fairy Tales universe or the history of these characters, but this relationship works here. The story seems to be serving the overall Age of Darkness arc well enough by illustrating this facet of the event. We get enough backstory to understand why Calie is where she is, but I think we could do with some more characterization on who she is aside from just The White Queen with a kidnapped daughter who kills all things good.
Luca Claretti draws this issue admirably. His art showcases the details of the characters’ costumes and expression while composing panels that communicate the story easily. He really shines with the gory scenes he gets to draw here. (I didn’t know giant mutant mushrooms had all of that inside of them).
Also, he takes time to make sure a group of Queen of Hearts goons at the beginning are all varied enough in appearance to tell them apart rather than let them be faceless nobodies. However his art falls somewhat short whenever the action scenes seem to lack fluidity and smoothness while still remaining stylized and detailed.
I cannot recommend this as a good jumping on point for the Grimm Fairy Tales Wonderland books, but, if you’re a fan, this is a pretty good first issue of this tie-in series.