Ever wonder what would have happened if the Genie in Aladdin had been written as an uber badass tough guy?
Yeah, me neither.
That being said, IDW’s new title JinnRise is a surprisingly entertaining read that is based on that very concept. Well, the Jinn may not be the Robin Williams-voiced genie from Aladdin, but they are genies, and they are badass. The story, written by Sohaib Awan, is about a simple alien invasion, but with a twist. JinnRise #1 opens with a lofty speech from these new alien overlords about humanity and how it is their right to annihilate the human race. The aliens are tough looking bastards, like giant muscle bound monsters with horse heads and multiple eyes. Imagine a villain from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, only really scary, and you’ll start to understand the visual concept of these aliens.
Representing humanity in this tale are two American college boys studying in Marrakesh. Quick to show the worst in American ignorance, the two boys go about mocking the townspeople as “natives” and exhausting the idea that the whole place is “backwards.” Marrakesh locals take the form of a market place vendor, as well as a young boy and his mother. There’s not much overview of the cultural clash, as the alien attack happens early on. Suddenly, there is war, and Marrakesh is slowly being blown away.
During the attack, friend turns against friend, locals become saviors and, just when it looks like certain death is near to our heroes, that’s when things turn interesting. The aliens, as is true with most aliens, are unstoppable. Our puny weapons are no match for them and it seems that humanity is out of luck - until a small boy from Marrakesh unleashes the genie from the bottle. The genie serves up a purple skinned can of whoop-ass on the aliens. The tide could turn here, the aliens could be driven back, but who are these genies and do they care for us?
Sohaib Awan writes a tight script with JinnRise #1. There’s no fat here - as soon as basic characters are introduced, the action comes in hard and fast. By the end of issue #1, the lines are drawn, the genie vs. alien battle royal is ready to go. I’m going to assume the lack of character development and the absence of names for these characters is Awan’s attempt to hook us into the scenario before allowing us to learn who we’re rooting for. As a set-up issue, JinnRise #1 works very well. You’re involved by the end, at least enough to pick up #2. If Awan doesn’t add a bit of drama and tension to the mix, the story will fall apart, but as of now he’s right on point.
The drawback to JinnRise is the art. Tony Vassallo’s work is typical of what companies like IDW, Dynamite and Top Cow like to deal in. This kind of art is simply here to bring pictures to the story. There’s no pop to it, no originality, and it looks as though most of it was put together on a computer. At times, the art is executed well, especially with the look of the aliens and the genie, but the human characters are borderline goofy. If Awan really wants to make a go of this series, he needs better artists ASAP.
JinnRise is an acceptable and fun first issue that suffers from poor art.
(3.5 Story, 2 Art)