Review - Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #1

When you have a timeless tale like Aladdin, it's really hard to take the property to areas it hasn't been before. Radical Publishing had to have known this, yet they felt they were the right publisher to breathe new life into Aladdin, probably the most famous character from 1001 Arabian Nights. Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #1 is the first of three issues in the retelling of the classic story. After reading the first issue, I like what they've done with the character, however, I have some reservations. Written by Ian Edington and featuring art by Patrick Reilly (lettering by Richard Starking and Jimmy Betancourt) and a cover by Marko Djurdjevic, the first issue is pretty much what you would expect from a character as well-known as Aladdin. The reader is introduced to Qassim, a sorcerer with great powers in search of a boy, Aladdin. After "paying" his two informants for their information regarding Aladdin's whereabouts, the story shifts over to Aladdin, running a dice scam on some ne'er-do-wells in an alley. It's clear that Aladdin isn't so much a "boy" as he's a man, and he's clearly been jaded living and scraping by on the streets. We're treated to a cameo by a fellow Arabian Night-er in Sinbad, and then Aladdin is called upon by Qassim to help him retrieve something from Shambala, the mystical underground city. I'm not sure but it seems as if Qassim used some sort of spell on Aladdin to coax him into helping. Anyways, he does help and goes to the cave. He's given the known time frame of 13 minutes (or when the grains of sand empty from the hourglass) to get in, get an oil lamp, and then get out. Aladdin is told he can keep any other treasures he finds in the city, but the lamp goes to Qassim. After some tentative exploration, Aladdin stumbles across the lamp and returns to the entrance with plenty of time left. Qassim, being the shady sorcerer that he is, double-crosses Aladdin and, in an attempt to kill him, forces him back into Shambala right as the original 13 minutes was up, sealing him inside. A confrontation with some not so happy giant scorpions causes Aladdin to realize that the lamp is more than just a weapon when lit; in fact, it has a Djinn of the Lamp inside. Aladdin's first wish is to escape, and the issue ends with him making an appearance in front of the sultan and his daughter Soraya, his motives unknown. My most recent memory of Aladdin is the Disney movie of nearly twenty years ago. Because that too adapted the original story, it's obvious there are similarities. If you go into reading this expecting the story to completely revolutionize the character you're going to be disappointed. You will be impressed with Reilly's art, as there's a certain smoothness to it that adds a sense of polish to the comic. Edington has infused Aladdin with sass, chance and (as mentioned earlier) cynicism, all of which present a main character whose arrogance could get the best of him. Qassim was severely under-developed in this first issue, but I have a feelings his actions in the next two issues will do wonders for setting him up as a really bad guy. I'm sure Soraya will have some fascination with Aladdin after his entrance, and of course the presence of the Djinn of the Lamp will add an extra layer of complexity to a character that was once a street urchin. I think the most striking aspect of Radical's take is that Aladdin is a lot more mature and gritty, which should lead to some interesting decisions when his back's against the wall (like the inevitable point when Qassim takes Soraya hostage). How far will Aladdin really go to get his way? The first issue is a beefy 64-pages and is worth checking out if you're looking for a new look at a storied character.