Note: This book was listed as “New” at my local comic book store. I perused the book, liked the look of the art, and picked it up. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the book had come out in October of 2014.
The cover: The title character sits on Baby Bear’s bead with one leg in the air, happily eating the same bear’s porridge. She’s clad in knee length boots, a frilly skirt, a ubiquitous Steampunk corset, a top that shows lots of cleavage, and goggles on her forehead. Behind her, barely visible in the dark coloring, is a souped-up rifle. It’s a good girl cover, that looks like an Americanized version of some Japanese manga. Rod Espinosa has created a cute drawing that lets readers know exactly what they’re in for with this book. The actual cover is much brighter than my poor scan of the cover. Overall grade: A
The story: This is a very simple story that takes the Goldilocks story, as well as the Miss Muffett tale, and puts a slight Steampunk spin on them. Writer Rod Espinosa’s story opens at the House of Confections, where the mother of the two Nursery Rhyme girls is scolding the pair for munching on her home. The two are enjoying some more tasty treats, when their mother throws a glowing orb at them, “Someone on the crystal ball for you, dears!” It’s a message from the Dark Queen who wants to hire the girls to “retrieve the icon known as the ‘golden bear’, locked away in a secure bunker. It is guarded by a ferocious family of ursiforms.” The pair spring into action taking a ginormous tank to reach the cave home of the bears. Muffett stays in their transport, while–wait for it–Goldilocks goes inside. If you’re vaguely familiar with the classic tale, you know what trio of obstacles she’ll have to overcome. Things are going well until the “ursiforms” arrive and then Muffett’s story is given a spin. There are some funny moments from Espinosa in this venture, but nothing deep or serious. This is just for fun. I could have done without the second panel on Page 2 that just doesn’t need to be there. However, taken as just for fun, this isn’t bad, but if one is looking for something beyond just a romp, you’ll be disappointed. Overall grade: B
The art: I was sold on the book by the visuals. This is a really lush book by Rod Espinosa, who does a top notch job on the art. This looks like American manga, with two cutesy girls who get themselves into trouble. Goldilocks’s hair is impressive, as it’s done in super curls, like back length dreadlocks. The details on each girl’s dress are pretty amazing, and that’s where most of the Steampunk imagery comes in. Oh, there’s the tank for a scene or two, and a few things that Goldilocks encounters in the cave, but, remember, this is for fun. Speaking of which, there is a really funny scene involving the title character and three specific brews. This is really comical. The bears are a pretty ominous looking trio, but not much is seen of them, as they employ something to take out the pair of invaders. I was surprised to see Espinosa using photos for backgrounds when it came to the forest settings. Normally I really dislike when artists do this, but Espinosa got it right. The key in his success using this element is that his coloring, which he also does, is bright, so when paired with the bright photo backgrounds, they blend much more easily. For example, when the girls’ tank is first shown, it’s drawn so well and colored so brightly that it fits in with the mountains and trees that have been inserted. The bears’ arrival has them surrounded by foliage and they blend in with it perfectly. Espinosa has mastered this blending better than most other artists. Overall grade: A
The letters: Also by Rod Espinosa, who is indeed running a one-man show on this book, are the sounds and dialogue of this book. It’s mostly dialogue, but the few sounds that are given come from the girls as they consume food, though the final two screams are bold perfection. Overall grade: A
The final line: A fun little story with excellent visuals. Overall grade: A-