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Calamity Jack

Updated on August 6, 2010

A month or so, I reviewed a comic called "Rapunzel's Revenge" that featured an adaptation of the fairy tale to a Western-esque setting. I said in that review that I was looking forward to reading its sequel. Well, now I have, and I can say that it posesses the same charm and inventiveness that the original did.

Focusing on Rapunzel's sidekick Jack from the previous comic, it finally explains why he had to flee town and hide out in Gothel's Reach when Rapunzel met him. Like "Rapunzel's Revenge," the story is a (very) loose adaptation of the traditional folktale, with Jack having grown up on the hard streets of the city as a quite accomplished thief. Deciding to pull one last big job in order to buy his mother a bakery, he decides to break into the flying castle of the rich and very powerful giant Blunderboar. However, the job is a bust, the only thing Jack managing to steal being a goose who supposedly lays golden eggs (except she doesn't), and the beanstalk Jack used to ascend to the castle destroying an entire tenement. To avoid having to face the consequences, Jack runs.

But, after helping out Rapunzel bring down the evil range of the witch Gothel in the previous book, and now that the goose finally is laying golden eggs, Jack and "Punzie" head back to the city so that Jack can bring his mother the golden eggs and finally buy her that bakery. But the city has gone downhill since Jack left: Blunderboar has basically taken over, as he provides giants to defend the city from the mysterious ant people who come out of nowhere and attack, often suspiciously close to Blunderboar's competitors. It's up to Jack and Rapunzel, joined by Jack's old partner in crime Prudence and a young idealistic publisher/inventor named Frederick Sparksmith to try to uncover and  expose the corruption of Blunderboar and free the city from his reign.

It's nice to have a book centered entirely around Jack. He was my favorite character in the last volume, and it's nice to get into his head and see what he's thinking. He is a character who is both entertaining and sympathetic, and I liked how he changes over the course of the story. Rapunzel unfortunately has a reduced role, but she is allowed to shine from time to time in the story, showing that she's just as resourceful and adept with those hair lassos as she was in her own book. Prudence is a interesting character, a hat-obsessed pixie who unlike Jack never really repented for her sordid past. I found her to be the most fascinatingly unpredictable part of the story. I found Freddie a bit of a letdown, sadly, as while his naivete is charming (and a welcome change from the competence of pretty much everyone else), he doesn't really serve that much of a role in the story. Finally, Blunderboar is an awesome villain, the kind of fellow who is very adept at manipulating the chessboard to make it almost impossible for our intrepid heroes to succeed. It was fun both figuring what his plan was and to attempt to guess how Jack and Co. would subvert it.

The setting was a nice shift. Instead of giving off a Wild West feel, this volume was set in a city that could be mistaken for turn-of-the-century Chicago or New York, were it not for the pixies and giants roaming about. I enjoyed the opportunity to explore this fascinating place, which felt like it had a real culture behind it. 

The plot twisted and tangled quite enjoyably. I loved discovering what new twist would result. Jack and his friends are given a difficult test, and it was a treat to try to figure out how they would pass it.

All in all, a worthy sequel to "Rapunzel's Revenge." I look forward to any further volumes by this creative team (Shannon and Dean Hale did the writing and Nathan Hale did the drawing) eagerly. Pick this up if you see it.   

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