Select one of the keywords
The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty    by Gabriel Benson & Mike Hawthorne order for
Ballad of Sleeping Beauty
by Gabriel Benson
Order:  USA  Can
Image Comics, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

With a noose around his neck, Cole stands ready to face death - again. Death has come knocking on his door numerous times and yet, he never seems to answer. Of course, this time is no different - he escapes with the help of his dear friend Will. But Cole also finds Red, a good-natured youth with a mysterious past and a curious tale. Red tells Cole of Briar Rose, a town under a sleeping spell because of a curse placed upon a young girl.

Cole takes up Red's quest and together the trio travels the West, but Cole's past comes back to haunt him. The avenging spirit of a Native American seeks to end Cole's life for past murders of Natives. Cole wants to exact revenge upon Drake, who killed Cole's wife and led him to believe it was the Natives. Unfortunately, Drake is not as easy to kill as expected and much like the Native spirit, his power and presence grows stronger the closer Cole gets to Briar Rose.

Set in the great West of classic American tales and films, this rendition of Sleeping Beauty parallels the classic fairytale while also making it much more colorful. This graphic novel repaints the story with a more endearing cast while at the same time morphing it enough so that the frame remains but added plot twists keeps the reader engaged. Though somewhat simplistic and stereotypical, the three main characters still provide great entertainment. The dark and gritty Cole contrasts well with the good-natured Will and the optimistic and sincere Red. The two very different antagonists also add to the story's depth and uniqueness.

The vivid color schemes of each panel series bring continuity and atmosphere to particular settings in the tale as well as to the entire graphic novel. Though not spectacular, the action sequences carry the reader through with page-turning excitement. The story focuses much more on Cole's mindset and evolution, as he heals his past wounds and embraces this new cause.

The Western genre of comic books seems to have been a dying niche. Yet, a tale like The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty could very well help to revive the genre. Others who wish to succeed in the Western setting would do well to sit down and read this graphic novel.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews