Malice for Malice's Sake Drives Zenescope's The White Queen: Age of Darkness Mini

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The White Queen: Age of Darkness #1 Cover by Sean Chen

In the Realms-meshed world that lays the landscape for Zenescope's AGE OF DARKNESS, ordinary humans are completely out of their depth. And when a roving band of survivors make it into Wonderland, now ruled over by the benevolent White Queen, Calie Liddle, the Dark Queen sets a task for Calie: kill the humans while they are lost in Wonderland.

Calie's not one for taking innocent lives, but she's left with little choice in the matter. The Dark Queen has a hold over Calie's daughter Violet (Wonderland's Mad Hatter), and Calie is never out of the gaze of the Dark Queen's minion, Joy the Trickster. Will she do what she's told? Will she stand up to the Dark Queen? Calie and the Cat are left without choices in this first of a three-issue miniseries.

Troy Brownfield's script adequately sets up the confrontation that is to come, but I felt his dialogue could have more cleverly set up the dilemma, allowing Calie the cover of an excuse later in this chapter. Luca Claretti's artwork is lacking detail in many places; it looks great in large panels and close-ups, but loses any distinction in smaller panels and distance scenes, with the figures looking excessively cartoonish and separating the reader from the mood the story is trying to establish. The Sean Chen cover, however, succeeds on levels that aren't just aesthetic, but also manage to tell pretty much the whole story of the issue in a single image, as Calie hefts an executioner's axe, reluctance plain on her face, and the Trickster in the background holding the locket that holds sway over Violet's life and death. Calie's interaction with the Trickster midway through the book (watch for Trickster to appear in a tree) is an absolutely perfect scene, by the way, and I'd love to see more in this vein.

As a devotee of Wonderland since before Zenescope came into existence (Happy 10th Anniversary, Zenescopers!) I'll always be interested in new interpretations, Zenescope's included. I'm just hoping that the recent turn of events in the series haven't painted the new White Queen into a perpetual role of lifting madness and being manipulated.

3.5 / 5.0