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Graphic Novel Review – Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen

Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen
STORY BY: Daniel T. Thomsen and Corinna Bechko
ART BY: Chapter 1: Michael Del Mundo; Chapter 2: Vasilis Lolos; Chapter 3: Mike Henderson and John Rauch; Chapter 4: Michael Kaluta, Scott Hanna, and Christopher Sotomayor
PUBLISHER: Marvel – Dan Buckley
RELEASE DATE: September 4, 2013

I call myself a fan. I call myself that. But it’s been almost two years since Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen was released, and I just read it this weekend. I’m a little embarrassed, not gonna lie. And since I’m getting things off my chest, I also need to confess that I didn’t start watching OUAT until Season Two was already complete. Yep. Superfan over here, kids. Don’t be jealous.

But what I lack in timeliness I make up for with enthusiasm! Never let it be said that there isn’t a method to my madness. Sure, I waited two years to read Shadow of the Queen. But that just means that now, in the doldrums of the summer break, I’ve got something to talk about. So really, my laziness benefits you!

The story is a familiar one. The Evil Queen, Regina, is trying to capture and kill Snow White in the Enchanted Forest. But this time Regina’s got new allies. Armed with the Huntsman’s heart and some silver-tipped arrows, Regina seeks the allegiance of the Werewolves in her mad quest to finally extract revenge. It’s the dead of winter, so Regina is counting on the wolves’ hardiness and tracking skills to ensure Snow White is left no quarter in the royal forests. But the wolves are not the complacent servants Regina demands, and soon she’s got a pack of clever lycans, a rogue Red, and a rehearted Huntsman between her and her quarry.

ch 3

I liked the pace of this book because it gave time for the progression of the main tale while allowing for backstory to be told. To me it felt neither rushed nor slow, and there was plenty of space for both dialogue and action. And while I wasn’t a fan of the ending, it did align perfectly with where the Evil Queen and Huntsman’s storyline picked up in the television show in Season One. And while Snow White is the prey in this tale, she is rarely the main character. Often she is layered behind the other characters, and this allows those we would normally see as “supporting characters” to become the interesting focus of the book. I really enjoyed seeing the natural and logical chemistry between the Huntsman and Red, especially in defiance of Regina’s desire to literally control his heart.

ch4Shadow of the Queen is also pretty gorgeous. The story remains linear, but the artist changes by chapter, so you get four distinct takes in one book. Some readers may not enjoy this change up because they might find it hard to follow which character is which. That being said, I had no problem whatsoever deciphering any of the main characters from chapter to chapter. The artists had an excellent grasp of the main characters’ traits and styles, so for me there was no confusion.

In fact it was nice to see so many different takes on the same characters because each artist highlighted something different about them. For example, in Chapter One, Del Mundo somehow marries Alphonse Mucha’s art nouveau grace with the imposing and sharp, intimidating angles of Citizen Kane to create a beautiful but terrifying Evil Queen.

ch 1

And in Chapter Two, Lolos changes up the tone drastically with his sexy, psychedelic tarot card style. Chapters Three and Four provide just as lovely artwork that, while more traditional, is no less impressive and dynamic. There are so many pages in this book that I would happily hang a print of on my wall.

ch 2

It’s important to state that, as of this article’s publishing, there is no word as to the Shadow of the Queen being accepted as canon, or official, despite many Tweets by fans to Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the show’s creators. Even so, this story seems to mesh up nicely with what we already know to be true in regards to both Regina and the Huntsman’s story and also Red’s tale involving her former wolfpack. And because it doesn’t waiver too far from canon, I can happily accept it into the timeline until I’m told otherwise.

If you’ve never picked up a graphic novel before but are a fan of the show, I encourage you to give it a read. I personally read my copy on my Kindle because I didn’t want to wait for the paper copy to arrive in the mail. Full disclosure, I ordered it anyway, because books. As an added bonus, both physical and electronic copies come with character development sketches and costume design layout pages. Even if you are new to comics and don’t enjoy the storytelling style, you will definitely appreciate the artwork.

Have you read Shadow of the Queen already? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments!

All images property of Marvel comics.

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1 thought on “Graphic Novel Review – Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen

  1. […] its predecessor Shadow of the Queen, this volume is comprised of four stories. It focuses on events prior to the series start for Hook, […]

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