True to the series, but doesn’t do much to expand it.
I just recently started watching Xena: Warrior Princess for the first time, and am having a wonderful time doing so. It’s often fun to revisit something you missed while it was popular and deconstruct its popularity based on when it came out. Xena is terribly produced by today’s standards, but there’s something about its campiness that keeps you coming back. This first installment in this new mini series, written by Wonder Woman and Rose writer Meredith Finch, is a little strange in its setting. It’s a reboot of sorts, as it shows Gabrielle and Xena first meeting and has no connection it seems to any of the events of the show. It remains to be seen if this is the right move or not.
The issue itself felt incredibly short because it’s basically just one scene. While it is a full twenty pages, it didn’t feel like that at all. This is basically just the first episode of the series, boiled down to its most basic parts. Xena saves Gabrielle from a couple of warlords who happen to be former subordinates of hers. I really enjoyed Genevieve Valentine’s recent take on Xena, but this seems to want to take the franchise in an entirely different direction and ignores everything that was laid before it. Xena by design is a series that is incredibly easy to drop into — telling a story while still respecting the previous events, however, this issue seems to be written as if that’s not the case. There’s also the point that this series probably isn’t going to get anyone into Xena. If you pick this up, you’re doing so because you like Xena. Therefore, the complete reboot on the plot will probably alienate the fanbase who just wants the continuation of Gabrielle’s and Xena’s adventures.
Gabrielle’s and Xena’s characterizations were true to their characters, but the rather one dimensional characterization of the warlords was eye-roll worthy. One of them is fat and likes food; the other is stupid and messes up constantly. It was like something from a Xena episode, but it wasn’t used in any interesting way, as something revisiting Xena this far from the source material should be.
The art is pretty and gets the job done well enough. I like Cifuentes’ lush greenery backgrounds, and the faces are pretty without sacrificing expressiveness. Some of the action is unclear, but not to the point that you couldn’t look at previous and subsequent panels to infer what’s going on. One thing that did bother me was the lettering. It’s similar to that of when an Asgardian in Marvel is speaking, but the entire frickin’ comic is like that. I’m all for inventive use of fonts, but when you’re using a font that is out of the norm, it needs to be used with purpose. There’s no reason why everyone should be talking with the Xena title font for the entire comic.
While this issue is enjoyable enough, and I will read the rest of the mini series, it does feel like a random effort in the franchise. It doesn’t add anything to the story, as it completely reboots the series and does it worse than the television show did it. There’s so much material related to Xena: Warrior Princess in this world, and in the end, this first issue doesn’t do much to prove that it deserves to exist.