My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Vengence never tastes as sweet as one thinks it might, and violence begets violence when it comes to the pain of a loss so great that it becomes a blinding agent fueling that anger which turns into revenge, to where it becomes a cycle among the group. If its any indication, Zenescope’s take on retelling aspects of “The Jungle Book” brings those themes home, and I’m surprised to say that as a fan of Rudyard Kipling’s original story, I liked this more than I thought I would going into it. Note that like many of the Grimm Fairy Tale Presents titles, this is a loose adaptation and doesn’t bear many resemblances to the original tale. It takes its own liberties and runs like the wind with them.
First thing I’ll mention off the bat is that I’ve liked many of the retellings/interpretations/offshoots of this tale in different mediums. I really enjoyed the live action movie with Sabu (1967) as well as the Disney live-action film (1994) with Jason Scott Lee among many familiar actors. And I’m very familiar with Disney’s animated films in the franchise as well. I like retellings/readaptations of stories within certain mediums, so when I heard Zenescope was going to do an adaptation of this with Mowgli reimagined as the leading female character, I’ll admit I had concerns, but I still wanted to see what would happen with it.
Turns out that the female adaptation of Mowgli has some of the same traits of impulsiveness I expected of the character. The story frames itself around Mowgli among other characters crashing in the middle of an all out jungle turf war among the many divisions. Mowgli’s taken under the wing of the wolves, and raised to fend for herself in a division from the other ruling groups of the jungle. But it is a tentative peace as Shere Khan wants vengence for his fallen spouse, and aims to eliminate the wolves as the price. At the cost of a loved one’s life, Mowgli’s anger gets the better of her, and she sets off on a mission that could bring the war into full swing yet again.
I do hope that there’s more to the story than in this collection of chapters because the story does feel like it has more to tell, and what it did tell was intriguing enough to make me see where it ultimately goes and want to get to know the players a little better. I did like the brief introduction to the different players and conflicts in this collection. I liked Mowgli’s characterization – she’s fiesty, ready to take charge – definitely shown with respect to some of the events that come to pass in this work. I did predict the story events to an extent, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of what it offered. I definitely liked the appearance of the familiar characters. Baloo is much like I’d figured he’d be, Bagheera’s more of a backseat character, and Kaa only makes a brief appearance (though certainly significant). Shere Khan is a menacing villain and makes quite a few harrowing appearances, particularly putting Mowgli at risk. I had a little bit of a rocky road trying to get to know the human characters introduced – you don’t see them all that much despite the divisions between the tribes, but I imagine if there are more installments, it opens the floor of what those relationships and memories may lead into.
Overall, I think those who have an appreciation for “The Jungle Book” and are familiar with Zenescope’s alternative takes on fairy tale retellings in an adult format should give this one a try. The artwork’s presented well and the story has some interesting elements that seem like they’ll build into something more engrossing with future installments. I would like to see how Mowgli grows with the knowledge she has now, and there’s potential for rounding out the characters and conflict even more past this point in the work given the events.
Overall score: 3/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Zenescope Entertainment.