Art: Jennifer Quick
Story: Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Publisher: Oni Press
Once in a Blue Moon introduces readers to Aeslin Finn and the favorite book of her childhood, The Avalon Chronicles, which her parents used to read to her at bedtime. One sad day, however, her father was killed on a business trip with her mother, and her mother thereafter banished all talk of fantasy and magic from young Aeslin’s life. Fast forward to Aeslin’s teen years, when she and a friend stumble across a mysterious man selling a book he claims is the sequel to The Avalon Chronicles, written by the son of the man who wrote that book Aeslin remembers. The thing is, this one is about Aeslin. Could she really be the Chosen One, destined to awaken the sleeping Last Dragon and don the magic armor of the Dragon Knight? And could her father really be the prince of the land, and her mother the last Dragon Knight?
[ad#longpost]A tale that could simply play to all the clichÃ©s is instead fresh, interesting, and almost immediately engrossing. Aeslin starts out a little dense and more than a little self-centered, but such is the way of heroes. They must begin to walk their path before they see where they are going. Along the way, Aeslin meets up with some interesting people, such as Cassidy, the rough-and-tumble girl who resents the fact that she is not the Dragon Knight, and Will Redding, the playwright with an eye for the ladies and a magical ability to write the true tale of Aeslin’s world and his own. While the story is interesting enough, it is truly the characters that make this comic worth reading.
The art is standard for American “manga,” which is to say that it’s very much in the manga style, but more angular like American comics. The characters, especially the eyes and expressions, are done attractively enough, but it’s not going to be the art that draws you to this series, unlike a Yu Watase title or a CLAMP production. Cassidy especially seems to live on the pages; hopefully, our heroine will grow into her role more, as well. It is, however, a far cry better than anything by Frank Quitely, who I still think should be drug into the streets, shot, and slapped with a restraining order to keep him at least thirty paces from drawing materials at all times.
The only downside is that Aeslin’s mother is one of the most irritating manga characters ever, like a combination of Chibi-Moon and, well, any generic adult. Hopefully her neuroses and understandable overprotectiveness will leave the action to the more interesting characters soon. The diction is often quite anachronistic, but hey, why not? It’s magic.
Once in a Blue Moon can be recommended to anyone who appreciates high fantasy, action, and entertaining characters. If you love dragons, sorcerers, and griffons, that won’t hurt. It’s not pretending to be deep and philosophical, but is that what you really want after a long day of drudgery? No. You want this series, which is a surprisingly good and genuinely entertaining piece of American comics goodness. So go pick it up today, and hopefully Volume 2 will be ready before we know it.