Review: Once Upon A Time Machine

by

Fairy tales have fueled our dreams and fired our imaginations for centuries. Step inside a time machine built by a collection of today’s finest storytellers, and enter a range of futures where familiar tales are reimagined in an astonishing variety of styles. Editors Andrew Carl and Chris Stevens bring you the next wave of leading writers and illustrators working alongside superstar creators like Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War), Ryan Ottley (Invincible), Khoi Pham (Daredevil), and Brandon Graham (King City) to deliver a reading experience that will delight generations young and old.

Dark Horse’s Once Upon A Time Machine is a behemoth of a book. It clocks in at well over 400 pages and features a list of writers and artists longer than your arm. The entirety of this article could turn into a list of creators and the cool stuff they’ve done, but I will just list a few of the people that helped bring the book together.  Andrew Carl edited the book, Chris Stevens produced it, Josh O’Neill served as the creative advisor, and L. Jamal Walton worked on production.

The book is a collection of stories and art that reimagines every fairy tale you could possibly imagine and gives it an update with a sci-fi or futuristic twist.  You may think that’s a little gimmicky and could easily turn into a cheesy story, but you would be incredibly wrong and I am ashamed of you for thinking that. Each writer crafts a familiar fairy tale and spins it into something unique by adding to or spinning parts of it in a new direction. You have John Henry as a mech pilot facing off against robot pilots. The story keeps the same premise and heart, but you have all the cool space bits thrown in. You have the three little pigs where the wolf is an investigative journalist called Darren Wolf hunting down corporate fat…pigs. I could write about all the clever twists and flourishes added to each story, but it would easily turn into an extremely long article. To put it in the most general way, each story keeps everything you know and love about it and changes it into something completely fresh while still keeping the all important moral.

Each artist and writer has been perfectly paired. I can’t point to one story as being weak on either story or art. I can be incredibly picky about art and story development, but each is crafted and shaped so well that any strengths or weaknesses of the story or art compensate for each other and make it something special.

Bottom Line: This is a massive book that both adults and kids can enjoy together. There are some elements that may not be appropriate for really small children, but that is maybe one or two stories out of the entire collection. I honestly and truly tried to find something to say I didn’t like about the book, but I couldn’t do it. It’s not a 400 plus page narrative, it’s a collection with the same overall theme of sci-fi or futuristic elements. You may not be completely sold on one story, but you turn the page and there is one that completely blows you away. No matter your tastes, there’s something for you in this. I cannot recommend this highly enough and give it a 5/5 because that is as high as it goes.

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