The Other Side of the Page: Books and Comics

Comic Review: Once Upon A Time "Out of the Past"

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This review was originally posted on After a server crash, it’s being added to What the Fangirl with permission from the writer.

267aeae68ad065756bfd87415e7393279420fec4It’s here! I’ve waited for this comic since it was announced in Marvel’s Previews back in December 2014. I wanted this for one big reason and one reason only:

New Jefferson story!

Sebastian Stan is why I started watching Once in the first place. He’s my favorite character, and I’ve missed him. Having no new stories since “The Doctor” weighed heavily on me especially in season four with mysterious doors and everyone world hopping on a whim. Remember when it was incredibly hard to world hop? Do you remember your own canon, Once Upon A Time?

Now, Out of the Past is here, and I’m a happy camper.

It’s a new comic released by Marvel. It’s 112 pages featuring stories with Killian Jones, Rumbelle, Regina Mills, and Jefferson. This is the second Once comic from Marvel. The first was Shadow of the Queen released in 2013. Shadow featured The Huntsman’s time serving under the Evil Queen while hunting Snow White. Ruby is also in this story, and it’s heavily hinted that The Huntsman and Ruby are true loves.
While Shadow was good, Out of the Past was so much better! I like the four ministory format. They fit a lot into a small amount of space.
The comic script was by Once writer Kalinda Vazquez, and every story had a different artist. Miss Vazquez did say all of these stories are canon to the show…
…which would be great if some plot holes didn’t pop up in the comic. We’ll talk about those when we get there.
The best part of Out of the Past is the slew of new characters introduced. There’s a new character in every story. A new villain arrives in Jefferson’s that I did not see coming. There’s also a look at love in every story. It analyzes different types of love from family to friendship to husband and wife.
This will be spoiler free as possible as I go tale by tale.

Dead in the Water- Killian’s story

ffe73292364469eaa86a9a35900c3f47Art by Pascal Campion
Escaping a storm, Captain Hook has no choice but to sail his crew into the dreaded Leviathan Shoals. This place is known for it’s green mist that makes you go mad and the legendary sea monster that won’t let you leave.
There, Killian finds an important person from his past. Is this person real or a trick?
Art wise, this was my favorite of the four. The simple shapes of the character paired with the beautifully colored backgrounds that lack form is awesome. You get the concept of the mood with lighting and violent color strokes. It’s like the characters came from David Aja’s Hawkeye and settled into the background of Marco Rudy’s Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier. This is a beautiful piece of work.
If all of these stories are canon, this has a veeeeery interesting conclusion. Killian’s tale has an open ending with potential for a big character in his life to show up again. I don’t think it would ever happen in the show. I don’t see where they could fit this character back into the T.V. Once world. That being said if they could, it would be an awesome development for our pirate captain.
The only little gripe is we get a new character named Lewis who is apart of Killian’s crew. I understand his role in the story, but I couldn’t help but wonder where Mr. Smee was. The only explanation is this takes place before “The Crocodile” when Killian and Smee hadn’t met yet.

Truth and Daggers- Rumbelle’s Story

CBnqzVFWYAE56-kArt by Betsy Peterschmidt
I’m glad this was set in past Enchanted Forest, because current Rumbelle makes me ill. There’s still a sense of budding romance between them in this story.
Visiting a nearby market, Belle comes upon soldiers returning from the Ogre War. She spots her childhood friend Samuel injured by an enchanted weapon. She takes him to Rumpel begging for help. The Dark One allows her to aid him in his castle.
But things are not what they seem with Samuel…
This is a fun one! It has some great callbacks to previous seasons including a very important magical item from season three.
There’s been a lot of complaints about how Belle’s written in the last few seasons. Have no fear, Rumbelle shippers! She is amazing in this story. The character reads as season one Belle. She’s strong, smart, and sympathetic. Her loyalties to Rumpel are tested and develops her more into the character we all know and love.
This story is fairly straightforward. It’s a good read, and it doesn’t add or take away from what we already know for Rumbelle.

Ghosts- Regina’s Story

CBhzdYTUkAEws7hArt by Vanesa Del Rey
Colors by Esther Sanz
While hunting for Snow White, the Evil Queen finds a man with ties to her past love Daniel.
If I say anything more about the plot, I’ll give away the big reveal.
Let me summarize Regina’s story in five words:
What a waste of time.
What I love about these Marvel comics is the writers can give us new stories they didn’t have time for in the show. In Sebastian Stan’s case, he doesn’t have the availability to come back as Jefferson. It’s why his story is so exciting. We have the first brand new Jefferson material in almost three years!
That’s my first problem with “Ghosts.” Regina was already featured prominently in Shadow of the Queen. This could have been an awesome opportunity to bring in another character who hasn’t been featured much in the show. Let’s look at great potentials:
-Granny has no back story
-Blue Fairy has no back story
-We know nothing about Baelfire’s time in Neverland
-Victor has an entire world that’s barely explored. We could of had other horror characters appear like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Faust and his demon Mephistopheles. Nosferatu would be CREEPY in comic form!
-We don’t know why Jiminy started working for Rumpel.
-August stories would be awesome to help fill in season four Author knowledge.
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland characters like Alice, Cyrus, Will Scarlet, Anastasia, Jafar, the Jabberwock would be great for fans like me who loved the spin off. Lord knows they abused Will Scarlet in season four!
-How Pan found out about Henry in the first place
The list is endless. This is the first huge folly of “Ghosts.” There are many other better stories that I’ve waited for. What I got was a dreadful tale of the Evil Queen.
Secondly, this does nothing for Regina. She has zero character development. She goes in blaming Snow White, the plot happens, and she leaves blaming Snow White. There is no change at all. She’s so one dimensional that they could have blotted a dot on a page and named it Regina. She bores me then entire time.
Finally, there’s a new character introduced that has ties to Daniel. This would be interesting if we had seen him in the show. Regina knows this guy, but the reader has no previous knowledge. He’s just there. In fact, his only useful purpose is a plot point in Jefferson’s story! Even then, someone else like Rumpel could have taken his place for the Hatter.
This is a travesty full of missed opportunities. Rating “Ghosts” by itself outside of the other three comics, I would give it a big fat 0 out of 10. It angers me how much this wasted my time and destroys Regina as a character.
Luckily, Out of the Past saved the best for last.

Tea Party in March- Jefferson’s Story

I started watching Once the summer before season two. In three years, I have watched “Hat Trick” and “The Doctor” 20+ times. I have written at least fifteen essays and blogs analyzing Jefferson’s character. I’ve mentioned him at least once in every Once podcast I’ve recorded which adds up to over twenty-five hours. I’m a huge advocate for Once: Wonderland and will argue it’s the better of the two shows. I even recently started a Once radio show with Jefferson as one of the main characters. I’m ready to have brand new Jefferson material!
Art by Janet K. Lee
During a world hopping trip to Camelot, Jefferson meets a fellow thief named Priscilla. They fall in love, have Grace, and settle into a peaceful life. A series of events forces Jefferson to face off against a new villain in Wonderland leading him to retire his hat.
CBccJKgW8AA43QTStory wise, this is the best of the four. The previous comics were more snippets of the character’s life. This is the only complete narrative from beginning to end. It does have it’s ups and downs though.
First, Jefferson having a wife is brand new information. In the show, he only referred to Priscilla as “Grace’s mother.” He never used the word “wife” or “married” until this comic. Also, Jefferson wears rings in the show, but never on his wedding finger. It is the first indication of him ever being married. I’m not sure if this a good or bad point.
The lack of timeline hurts this comic. If this is supposed to be canon, I cannot place it anywhere in the show. While he wears his costume from “The Doctor,” I can’t tell if this is before or after that episode. There’s also a huge plot hole. Jefferson seems to visit Wonderland for the first time in the comic. He doesn’t understand the world. He’s startled by talking animals. This doesn’t make sense.
That’s because in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, Jefferson has a house in Wonderland. It’s been there for years. Alice, Will Scarlet, and the White Rabbit know who he is. Alice had to have met him in her previous travels either as a child or with Cyrus both taking place before season two of the main show. For this comic to be canon, that would have to mean that Jefferson set up his house in Wonderland under imprisonment from Cora. I just don’t see the Queen of Hearts letting him do that. It just doesn’t add up in any way, shape, or form.
I also wish we got more about Priscilla’s past. We don’t know anything about her. There’s no clues about her being a literary character. In fact, the only story I can think of with a Priscilla in it comes from the Bible. I think if we had more background on her, she would have been interesting. I will admit, I’m biased. I always theorized that Jefferson married Dorothy, the original world hopper from Wizard of Oz. I had high expectations for Priscilla, and she didn’t quite live up to them.
Since the story starts in Camelot, couldn’t we have Lancelot drawn in the background? He wouldn’t have to talk. It would be nice for the only real King Arthur character from Once to have a small cameo. Now going to Camelot in season five, maybe this will come up again? HA! Like Once actually gives a damn about it’s minor characters!
All the nitpicking aside, THIS WAS AN AMAZING COMIC!
Jefferson is stellar all the way through. He has that quirky quality Mr. Stan plays so well. He’s charming and charismatic. Then in the end, he sells the tragedy. You can almost hear Mr. Stan’s voice echoing from the pages.
The art exaggerates the proportions of both characters and setting which is a very Wonderland thing to do. I can see where some people might not like it, but it’s fitting for the story they’re telling.
Finally, they introduce a new villain. Man! Wonderland has the best villains. While he was cheesy in the first half, Jafar was nasty in the second part of Once: Wonderland. Anastasia has a better redemption arc than both Regina and Rumpel in a shorter amount of time. The Jabberwocky is hands down the best big bad they’ve ever created. Now, you can add the villain in Out of the Past to this list. I don’t want to give it away. He’s so good, because he was the last person I was expecting. I’ve wanted this character for years. I just didn’t realize I wanted him like this. When you think of the Hatter with this character, it is not this outcome. It’s a Once twist for the ages!
I was thoroughly pleased with this final story. It was well worth the wait.
Now, let’s work on getting Sebastian Stan back to Once.

Final thoughts

Oncers, this comic is worth every penny your money. I highly recommend it. All the stories have something for everyone. I adore character based narratives which is what Out of the Past is all about. The new characters are fun for the most part. It would have been nice to see some other favorites like Archie or Ruby, but the new cast didn’t hurt.
There’s some nice bonus material at the end. You have a look at the character costume designs and some concept art from the show. Personally, I would like to have comic scripts from Kalinda Vazquez. But that’s just me, because I collect comic script books. I love them simply because they’re written in a completely different format from television or movie scripts. It’s an interesting medium to study (for me, but I’m a nerd).
If it wasn’t for that terrible Regina story, I would have easily given Out of the Past a 9 out of 10. Instead, I’m going to give it a 7 out of 10.
Now with two successful comics from Marvel, I would love to see a push for a monthly Once comic filling in stories they couldn’t do in the show. If Buffy, Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars can do it, so can Once Upon A Time!

Hope set out into the world to be a Pokemon Coordinator. When she realized that Pokemon were not real, she pursued her other passion: writing. Hope was raised in fandoms and saw how they can help save the world from her work with The Harry Potter Alliance. Now, she works to bring that love into writing one article at a time. She's also a diehard Atlanta Braves fan, so don't diss her team.

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  1. Pingback: 10 Unanswered Questions in Once Upon A Time – What The Fangirl

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