Writer: Dave Franchini
Artwork: Cleber Lima
Colors: Jorge Cortes
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Neverland is at war! As Skye tries to help Belle gather forces to fight back the invasion from Wonderland, the long forgotten tribes of Neverland are called to arms to help defend the realm they call home. Will they be enough to stop the carnage coming their way or will the realm of madness’ secret weapon be too much for them all to handle?
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
As the darkness threatens to engulf all of Wonderland, Skye and Belle prepare for the coming war by gathering the tribes of the realm, and yet as they encroach upon a land embodied within a crocodilian obsession, they are not met with the warmest of welcomes. The heavily armored soldiers who greet them at the border do their best to dissuade the two formidable women, plying insults in stating they need no help from ones they do not know and proclaim this will be the only chance they have for a bloodless retreat. However when the Guardian states they are here to ask for help, the loathsome men laugh at this plea to which the resourceful ebony haired warrior reverses their taunts by implying they are too afraid to lend any aid. With their honor now insulted, the reptilian mounted leader capitulates and announces they will be taken to the king and queen, although infers after they meet they may wish to have taken his prior offer of leaving peacefully. It is during the lengthy journey through dense undergrowth Belle explains she understands their mistrust of strangers, and yet during this time of crisis the people must unite if they are to success in repelling these new invaders.
As they arrive within a secluded clearing, the proud scout gives this beautiful duo one last chance to withdraw, but as Skye defiantly declares they have come this far so they may as well continue the trip. However after being escorted into a mammoth cave surrounded in darkness, the pair become all the more wary after lighting their way and finally realizing they have stepped into the depths remains of a gigantic reptile. And yet as the sunlit exit finally comes into view, a raucous chant begins to reverberate in the humid air, becoming louder and more ominous as they are told their leaders await them at the bottom of a foreboding pit encircled by more heavily armored warriors. After finally being granted an audience with the king and queen, Mathers and Belle are brought before the haughty rulers and allowed to state their intentions, all while the gathered people continue their echoing chant. But once Skye declares herself as the Guardian of the Nexus and wishes to seek their help, the pompous ruler mockingly rejects her request by declaring she is weak and pitiful if she needs to ask for assistance in repelling the invaders of Wonderland. Seeing negotiations have broken down, Skye and her party attempt to leave but king stops them by stating they have seen this kingdom and throne room, so they cannot return to the outside world and will die with honor to keep their secret.
Although the story arc may have come to a temporary pause with negotiations for new allies, this does not mean writer Dave Franchini will cease the excitement due to lack of enemies, instead he creates them with the promise of friends being created through combat. It is highly amusing to see a tribe influenced by the crocodile which is central to Neverland, and if you have seen any of the interpretations of Peter Pan the leap into thinking people would worship such a ferocious beast is not so far fetched as one would think. But to believe they would carry this reverence for the beast so far as to wear tanned reptilian armor, utilize remains as architectural foundations, ride tamed examples and use them as pets for entertainment is shows how much these people value its primal power as a means to an end. Plus if you look onto their rejection of Skye’s offer for an alliance due to her not being able to protect others due to a lack of strength, this attitude of Survival of the Fittest makes sense if it is reflected against their balance of might makes right. After all, if the Guardian cannot protect those who rely on her for her abilities, what need do they have of such a weak treaty with those who will fall at the first sight of battle. But what makes the issue all the more enjoyable is to see the result of this favoritism and need to rely on the same strength they rejected, bringing the story full circle and allowing all of the tribes to unite against Neverland.
But of course while we appreciate a worthwhile story, what truly stirs readers’ interest would have to be the outstanding opening splash from Cleber Lima depicting our two powerful beauties in all their magnificent splendor, made all the more spectacular thanks to Jorge Cortes’ vibrant, even if they are at times overly bright and almost cartoonish, palette. To witness such piercing strength displayed from Skye and Belle makes the audience know they are the centerpiece of the narrative, and yet one cannot deny the abundant exposure of soft skin and every alluring curve, making one wonder how human males can fight seriously if they are trying to figure out where to look – sword, magic or cleavage. And yet once we turn to the page to see their foes one immediately recognizes the danger they face as it advances on stubby legs and a giant maw that looks capable of devouring someone with one gulp. It is the menace of this beast which forces your eyes to focus upon its gaping mouth, almost as if you are capable of smelling the repulsive stench emanating, with the little man astride seeming insignificant as he bellows his demands adored in matching reptilian armor. The detail of the images is amazing, allowing for each nuance to be enhanced by the rich depth of colors expressing a commanding presence from both sides, all as static action gradually concentrates the moment unto a showdown which neither side may survive.
The gathering of forces may taken some time, but as Skye and Belle recruit those who may be the most powerful, one cannot forget the foreboding war for Neverland which looms over the horizon. And yet even with a gripping story and beautifully executed artwork, the reader can fully enjoy the unfolding drama which relates the seriousness of the situation, all as we are famished to feast on what happens next. But Wonderland closes in, we know the best is yet to come … and we cannot wait.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: December 04, 2019