Erica McCrystal, Fanbase Press Contributor

Erica McCrystal, Fanbase Press Contributor

In issue #2 of Orphan Black: Deviations, tensions rise to extreme levels. No one knows who to trust or where answers may lie. As the Clone Club is busy trying to put the pieces of their complicated lives together, Heli Kennedy’s brilliant script conveys the idiosyncrasies of each character. Alison’s quips provide humorous moments amid intense interrogation of Sarah. And Beth is starting to develop more, as we see how she fits into the group. Since we don’t get to see these interactions in the show, it is refreshing to have her character so active and involved—even if she is just really angry and tense so far. We also witness her coping mechanism, which shows how much her character is struggling on the inside. Hopefully, once Sarah is welcomed into the group, Beth will be able to release some of her pain.

This series creatively meshes a variety of pre-existing characters in a freshly re-imagined Victorian London universe. Kim Newman’s brilliant script is a true tribute to literature and an artistic creation beyond Bram Stoker’s classic novel. She uses anarchists, criminals, and artists from novels, short stories, films, and even operas as characters coexisting in her version of Victorian London. As I read, I found myself searching the characters’ names and reading up on their original roles in other works. The interactions between these characters make the tale unique and creative. I appreciate that the characters are not popular, because it allowed me to enjoy learning about lesser-known figures and their stories. (I may need to go and read The Princess Casamassima after reading this series!) When a work can inspire and encourage a reader to research and explore other works, I find that to be impressive.

In this issue, Rani and her team muster up their resources to prepare for the imminent war with the fae. Their initial fight is playfully violent, with spaceman Merlin’s magical help and an amusing use of weaponry after Rani cuts off a faerie’s arm. Rani is a strong, aggressive fighter. Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride have created a fearless woman who learns how to tap into her inner magical ruler abilities amid a faerie attack brought forth from another realm.

What do you do when a god asks you to be his personal assistant? Shadow Moon does not quite jump at this opportunity in the second issue of American Gods: Shadows, but when left with no better options, he finds himself accepting the offer. Shadow seems to be looking for something to do with his life, especially now that his wife is dead. He’s a little lost in the world, which Mr. Wednesday notices and takes advantage of.

In the alternate fictional reality of Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem #1, Prince Dracula was not defeated by Van Helsing and company. Instead, he became the ruler of Great Britain, which encouraged vampires to emerge from the darkness, making for a Victorian London rampant with vampires. Dracula has ruled for 10 years now, and a resistance group is making plans to overthrow him, while others are planning his jubilee. The premise for this tale is brilliant in the way that Prince Dracula essentially becomes a political figure with those who publically celebrate him in contrast to those who want to usurp him. Adding the animal creatures that Dracula also commands demonstrates his complete power over man, animal, and undead. Kim Newman’s plot is a wonderful spin on the Victorian Gothic vampire problem.

Orphan Black: Deviations #1 shows us what would happen if Sarah had saved Beth from committing suicide on the train platform. Despite this major twist in plot, this issue still really feels like the TV show. Heli Kennedy keeps much of the familiar plot in tact. The key players are introduced, and they reference several complications likely to fully develop in upcoming issues. This issue is jam-packed with exciting moments. It brings me back to the early episodes of season 1 of the show. My main question is: How will Beth alter things to come? I can’t imagine that the story proceeds exactly as it did on the show with Beth added into the mix. She is an original member of Clone Club who has lots of resources. She should definitely impact some of the drama yet to unfold. And I also look forward to how Kennedy will imagine the dynamic between Beth and Helena.

Lyndon White’s Kickstarter foldout book, Dracula Concertina, is a stunning, beautifully Gothic collection of illustrations based on Bram Stoker’s classic novel. With just a brief narrative on the back cover, the story emerges across the nine remarkable illustrations. White has created a new and exciting version of Dracula while still maintaining the darkness and horror of the vampire’s evil plight.

In the first issue of American Gods, P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton effectively bring to life the darkness and mystery of Neil Gaiman’s brilliant novel. The variant covers, drawn by several different artists, illuminate terrors of mythology and provide a glimpse of the intensity this thrilling story promises to provide. The covers are enticing and spellbinding and serve as perfect entry points to a visualized adaptation of Gaiman’s masterpiece.

Part 1 of The Drosselmeier Chronicles brings us The Solstice Tales, a beautiful weaving of fae fantasy with 19th-century classic literature. Wolfen M’s adaptations are inspiring tales of love and wonder, where recognizable characters interweave with fantastic creatures. Magical and delightful, The Solstice Tales is a great read for curling up in a comfy chair by the fire and letting your mind drift off into another land.

What would happen if the legend of King Arthur were propelled into the twenty-first century? Arthur would be a woman, of course. Dark Horse’s five-part series, The Once and Future Queen, brings us the exciting adventures of Rani Arturus, a 19-year-old chess whiz who pulls the sword from the stone. Chess is a fitting activity for a modern-day King Arthur, because it highlights Rani’s strategic skills and foresightedness. I expect Rani will have prowess and a cunning ability to be one step ahead of any enemy she faces in this series.

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