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Review: Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm #1

Classic-style swashbuckling fun.

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A prison escape from the Prince of Persia's early days is recounted by a ne'er-do-well Sheik he saved and subsequently lavished a king's riches upon.

The Good

This is old fashioned, swashbuckling fun that's been sharpened for contemporary audiences. The Prince, the Sheik and the Princess fit into familiar archetypes, but this is a comic that reminds you that those archetypes keep popping up again and again for a reason. I found them all quite charming, and I especially liked the Prince's helplessly impulsive nature and the Sheik's bits of mildly sage wisdom. I was impressed by the amount of research Mechner put into the script. The characters' choice of words, describing things in terms of what's actually around in Persia in this period, gives this a real authenticity. The whole framing device of the Sheik having a street party that's clearly beyond his means and the subsequent explanation he has to give to explain how he isn't a thief (and why he shouldn't be punished) felt almost like a lost tale from the Scheherazade. There's so many artists here that I'm not sure who to praise, but the art was uniformly top notch - - lavishing a great amount to detail on the setting while still keeping the character clean and appealing.

The Bad

The story takes a little while to get rolling. You don't even see the Prince until 10 pages into this. But you know what? I'm not really going to knock it for that. It pleasantly reminded me of the more leisurely pacing you'd encounter in something like The Scheherazade (as I mentioned), which the every iteration of the Prince of Persia has consciously tried to evoke, anyway.

The Verdict - 4.5/5

I haven't gotten to see the Prince of Persia movie before reading this and now I'd definitely like to check it out to see all the things this comic's hinting. I have played the Sands of Time video game trilogy (the one that's really gotten PoP all this attention) and this definitely captures what I enjoyed about them. Actually, the inclusion of Disney's name here really draws my mind to all the classic adventure movies that Richard Fleischer directed in the 50's and 60s like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Vikings. This was very much in the spirit of those and it's another surprisingly-great title for Dynamite.