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Reign of the Zodiac #1

Posted: Monday, September 1, 2003
By: Shaun Manning



Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Colleen Doran

Publisher: DC Comics

The Story:
A young royal of the House of Virgo prepares to wed a beauty from the House of Ares, forming an alliance that will tip the scales power in the Zodiac! But first, a history lesson from his mentor.

The Reaction:
The story summary above took place in the last two pages of the issue. For the first twenty pages, the reader is treated to a lengthy, though somehow still very vague, history of the Zodiac world, as explored by a master and apprentice. Through voiceover. Witticisms aside, there is very little characterization to be found at all in Reign of the Zodiac, and while a good sci-fi fantasy writer will introduce the world through his characters, Giffen instead introduces his characters through the world. This approach, while often attempted, is rarely successful; however fantastic the tapestry of Zodiac might be, there’s no reason to care if the human core of the story fails.

Now, if the book was as funny as Giffen’s other current project, Formerly Known as the Justice League, just about any lapse of characterization could be forgivable. Alas, it is not. The banter is weak and often clichéd, standard know-it-all student versus wise-but-cranky elder stuff. Furthermore, without a solid basis for their more recent activities (only ancient history is covered, much to Scion Garn Ch’ar Taru’s dismay), there really isn’t a lot to joke about.

Colleen Doran’s art is earthy but colorful, with fascinating cityscapes and fabulous people, making the book a pleasure to look at if not to read. Her effort is marred, however, by an abundance of text panels, which, to make matters worse, are colored so similarly between the two speakers that it is often difficult to determine who is talking.

The Verdict:
After a long, long spell without any new work by the enigmatic Keith Giffen, this seems to be his year. Luckily, with titles like Lobo Unbound, Formerly Known as the Justice League, adaptations of the manga Battle Royale and the sporadically-published Dominion, it is safe to take a pass on some of his works, knowing that there will be more. Unfortunately, more of these seem to be worth avoiding than picking up, and it looks like Zodiac is going to fall into this trend.



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