Zenescope Entertainment 2020
Written by Nick Bermel
Illustrated by Daniel Mainé
Coloured by Grostieta
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual
Before Shang was the mentor to the Guardian of the Nexus, bear witness as his past is finally revealed! The war for the Imperial throne is coming to an end. Shang, the last of his dynasty, seemed nearly invincible until a new general was chosen to lead the Imperial army. As these two strong forces race towards their inevitable clash, sinister forces plot to defeat them both.
Last issue was a shocking revelation as Mulan was revealed and as she and Shang fought on the battlefield, Daji took advantage of their fight to send them both away through her magics. While we spent a good deal of time getting to know the players in China and seeing what people they were, this issue sends them to a new place with new issues and new compromises. Can Shang and Mulan find a way to put aside their differences and learn to survive in this new land or will they succumb to their new surroundings? That's the real question here. Personally I love everything about this and seeing Shang the way he was meant to be, which if you don’t know yet then you need to read it and see for yourself, is just the icing on the cake.
I am a huge fan of the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information moves it all forward and is presented beautifully. How we see the events unfold has this incredible movement to them that really captures the readers’ imagination and creativity in ways that you won’t expect it to. The character development here is amazing! I like how their personalities shine through in every conversation, interaction and self analysis that we see in these pages. The circumstances and situations that arise keep them on their toes and in some cases force them to change and evolve their ways. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing the twists and turns along the way while showing us how everything works together to create the books ebb & flow.
This wouldn’t work anywhere else and the setting is probably the biggest reason why. Also this is bold and somewhat arrogant but it has power behind it and a confidence that really makes a huge difference in how we see the book. So yeah this is why I love Zenescope because they’ve become this house of intelligent and smartly done books.
The interiors here are absolutely beautiful. I like how we see the linework through how the varying weights are being utilised to show off the detail work. The patterning in the armour or how we see this landscape and everything in between shows how the devil really is in the details. How we see the backgrounds being utilised throughout is spectacular to see. Not only because of how they are done but because of it, they enhance the moments and bring us this great depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show such an amazingly strong eye for storytelling. The colour work is exceptional! How we see the hues and tones within the colours utilised to create more dimension and detail in what we see through how the shading, highlights and shadow work are done is truly magnificent.
This is what I have come to expect out of Zenescope these days. Smart, intelligent writing and some kick-ass interior artwork that creates a great solid story and takes you someplace you want to go and get lost in.