Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review - Battle for Ozellberg #1


"If any animal should speak to me, do not listen. For it speaks only lies."

Everyone knows Little Red Riding Hood. It's the story about a young girl making a trip to see her sick grandmother. That trip is interrupted though by the appearance of a sinister wolf. What happens if that little girl is a little more combat ready? Would the story end the way you think it does? Battle for Ozellberg #1 is a good way to find out. The issue is written by Deon Brown, illustrated by Steve Myers, colored by Licca Kirk, inked by Jeff Morrow and lettered by Chris Chandler.

After losing her parents in one of their many previous battles, Jaana Eberhardt, or Little Red as she is affectionately called, is sent out alone on a journey to bring healing herbs to her deathly ill grandmother Edna, a once powerful warrior and protector of Ozellberg village. Edna is Jaana’s last living relative and the only one capable of unlocking her full potential as a true Eberhardt warrior, which happens to be the real reason for the visit. She must pass on this legacy to Jaana before she dies. The Eberhardt bloodline may be the only thing standing between Alwin and his wolf clan and the complete destruction of Ozellberg Village.

At it's core, Battle for Ozellberg #1 plays out in a way that's familiar to those in the know of Little Red Riding Hood. Brown uses that tried and true tale as a jumping point for something grander, essentially making the loss of Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother a catalyst for something greater. And Brown does this pretty well, infusing the book with a certain level of chaos that raises the stakes significantly, but at the same feels rooted in fantasy. Twisting the classic tale in the way Brown does is pretty unique and adds a level of freshness to the storied tale. Even the dialogue feels appropriate for the tale being spun by Brown.

Updating the classic tale with a new story is only half the battle. Myers offers up illustrations that are very representative of the fantasy world the creative team is inviting the reader into. Characters are cartoonish in appearance, with some features exaggerated for fantasy measure. For instance, the paws of Alwin are slightly oversized, which is pretty effective in keeping the reader engaged in the fantasy. Panels also float on every page, with the gutters somewhat loosely defined in a way that keeps the story moving along at a solid pace.

Battle for Ozellberg #1 is a good first issue that establishes the tone of the next two issues. Jaana has a family lineage that she feels pressure to uphold and that pressure is further intensified by the end of the issue. Brown's take on the classic is pretty unique and intriguing, promising to go in some pretty fun directions down the line. The art team of Myers, Kirk and Morrow do a great job offering a look at all the action, giving the book a feel that's somewhere between cartoon and anime; there's even some looks of a JRPG. Battle for Ozellberg #1 is worth checking out because it's a new take on and old classic.

Battle for Ozellberg #1 is available now for free.

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