Friday, 13 May 2011

Charmed: Volume 1 Review

Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Writer(s): Paul Ruditis, Raven Gregory
Artist(s): Dave Hoover, Marcio Abreu, Novo Malgapo
Release Date: 15 February 2011

Debuting in 1998 on the now defunct WB Network, Charmed went on to become one of the most popular and long-running fantasy television shows of recent times. The story focused on a simple premise; three sisters who were also witches whose destiny was to protect the innocent and combat the forces of evil as The Charmed Ones. Charmed eventually came to an end after eight years in 2006, but now after quite some time in the pipeline, Charmed is back in comic form thanks to Zenescope Entertainment.

Charmed seems to fit with Zenescope’s brand of beautiful women and fantasy with ease and the only surprising thing about this release is that nobody thought of it earlier. As this book shows, although on screen Charmed appeared to have run its course, in comic book form the series has been given a new lease of life and the adventures of the Halliwell sisters looks to be far from over yet.

This volume contains the following issues:

Issue #1 - Charmed Lives
The sisters are enjoying their lives away from fighting demons, however magic still remains a part of their lives with Piper and Phoebe's daughters coming into their powers and Paige teaching at Magic School. Meanwhile, two mysterious enemies Neena and Hogan begin their plot to resurrect The Source.

Issue #2 - No Rest For The Wicca
Phoebe and Piper attend the funeral of their first innocent, Brittany, who has mysteriously died and reverted back to the old age she was after being attacked by the demon Javna the sisters rescued her from. Phoebe has a premonition which shows her that all of The Charmed Ones' past innocents are all in danger.

Issue #3 - Innocents Lost
The sisters attempt to figure out who is after their past innocents which leads them to Tyler Michaels, a firestarter they once helped. As the realise that they must return to fighting demons, Neena and Hogan successfully resurrect The Source.

Issue #4 - Mortal Enemies
The sisters' innocents turn against them after The Source casts a spell, sending the sisters to Magic School in order to devise a plan to stop him. Meanwhile, Piper searches for the place to open her restaurant.

Issue #5 - Unnatural Resources
The sisters go up against The Source after devising a clever plan to vanquish him forever. However, as Neena's plan comes together it appears that this is only the beginning of The Charmed Ones' return to fighting evil.

Also included is Issue #0 a recap issue which came out before Issue #1 which quickly explains the characters and all major events and storylines throughout the series. A special extra story is also included "To The Warren Born" which is a prequel story set during Charlotte Warren's pregnancy with Melinda. It appears that this may have some larger ties to the overall story than simply being an extra, but we'll have to wait and see if it is indeed part of a larger story.

Written by author Paul Ruditis, who has close connections with Charmed after writing two official guides and a handful of novels based on the series, his knowledge of the universe has to be commended. He has a firm grasp of the characters as well as the intricate history of the show something even the writers of the show often had trouble remembering. This volume has the job of reintroducing us to the sisters after the events of the series finale, Forever Charmed, which did an impressive job at wrapping up any loose ends and even giving us a glimpse into the sisters’ futures. The way Ruditis does this is by bringing back one of the sisters’ most troublesome foes, The Source, who for many seasons was one of the main Big Bads of the show. By reintroducing The Source not only does this give Ruditis the opportunity to introduce the Charmedverse to newcomers, he also manages to set up the bigger story that continues (at least) into the next arc/volume.

Although initially the story starts of fairly slow with very little happening in the first issue, once things heat up the story actually becomes very fast paced and ultimately when The Source is destroyed, impressive as the eventual execution was, seemed rather abrupt happening over the course of a single issue. That was perhaps my only gripe with this volume, in terms of story, that after a slow build up, the ending seemed to be over just as it was beginning. Luckily the return of The Source was somewhat of a foil for the even bigger Big Bad of the series who appears to be unlike anyone (or anything) the Charmed Ones have ever faced.

Artwork wise, this volume offers a mixed bag of artwork. The first three issues are done by Dave Hoover whose art when good was pretty good but when bad (which was quite often) just did not work for this comic. However, after issue three the artwork is handled by Marcio Abreu whose slightly more pencil-y style really works in the context of the story and his likeness of the actors is usually very good for a comic book adaptation of a television series. The colouring however is much more inconsistent, changing almost every issue. At first the colours were very bright and cartoonish, and then they get slightly darker before going quite soft and light again before going back to darker shades. This was something that annoyed me, especially when the colour of the characters’ hair would change colour in some cases from page to page. Hopefully this is something that will become more consistent in future issues.

Overall, Charmed: Volume 1 serves as a very good introduction (or reintroduction to fans such as myself) to the world of The Charmed Ones. Although the artwork is often mixed, the story really goes from strength to strength as the issues progress and I think Charmed could potentially be a very successful on-going series.

Rating: 3.5/5

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