The Good: Moments of connection to the television series
The Bad: Generally poor art, Unengaging stories, Dull plots
The Basics: Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past is a series of vignettes that are predictable, poorly-drawn and do not truly enhance any of the characters.
One of the recent trends in television and movies is generating enthusiasm for a work by creating tie-ins with other media, most notably comic books (and their anthologized forms which are often mis-called graphic novels). Once Upon A Time, as a popular television show, is no exception to that trend. In addition to completely original graphic novels, Once Upon A Time has had comic book stories that are vignettes that are only tangential to the television show. Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past is an anthology of some of the vignettes.
It is, quite simply, not worth it.
Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past is a collection of four one-shot comic book stories that do virtually nothing to enhance the characters or plots from the television show Once Upon A Time. The fundamental problem with this is that only die-hard fans of Once Upon A Time might be interested in Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past - these vignettes are not substantive enough to entice a reader into watching the television show - and the book does not enhance the characters or stories enough to satisfy such fans.
"Dead In The Water" tells a story with Captain Killian Jones before he came Captain Hook. The Jolly Rodger flees a storm and ends up in the Leviathan Shoals. There, Jones sees his dead brother and together, they work to escape the massive monster who affects people's minds and traps them there. The story is simplistic and the artwork is terrible - it is rough and simplistic and the characters are barely recognizable. The story is further lessened by its predictability. This is a typical "will o'the wisp" tale and from its earliest moments, it is built that way. There is nothing surprising about the story, nor engaging about its execution.
"Truth And Daggers" is a Belle and Rumplestiltskin story. Belle's word is tested when she goes to town and encounters an old friend of hers, Samuel, deeply wounded. She brings Samuel back to Rumplestiltskin's castle to try to heal him, but discovers there is a plot afoot and she has to choose to honor her word and stay with Rumplestiltskin or help her old friend. The artwork is like watercolors and very few of the panels makes Belle look like Emile de Ravin (who plays Belle on Once Upon A Time). Because Belle is characterized as a monolithically good person, there are no real surprises in this short story. On the first page is, essentially, the character's mission statement and that is simply maintained through the story.
"Ghosts" is, arguably, the most pointless story in Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past. In it, Regina falls in a trap, laid by the brother of the stablehand she once loved. The artwork in this short story is universally terrible and the plot goes absolutely nowhere. It's hard to even figure out how this story made it past being pitched.
The best story in the book is "Tea Party In March," which is a story that follows the Hatter and his love, Priscilla. This story is useful in that it tells the story of the Hatter and his portal-jumping hat from before he went crazy. The story, despite mediocre artwork, is a good bridge between Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time In Wonderland. The story introduces the crazed March Hare in Wonderland and gives an interesting backstory for Jefferson before he fell in with the Storybrooke crowd.
That story is not enough to justify Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past; neither buying it, nor reading it. Ultimately, Once Upon A Time - Out Of The Past feels like an advertisement for Once Upon A Time and its spin-off, as opposed to a legitimate work of its own.
For other graphic novels that tie-in to movies or television shows, please check out my reviews of:
Heroes - Volume 1
Countdown To Darkness
Man Of Steel: The Prequel
For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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