The heroine of Boom Studios’ new series has been known by many names. The others look, and probably smell, sweeter than this title’s princess does by the issues ending. Things can get prickly when you play with a classic. But, don’t sleep on Briar #1. Not when the creative team doesn’t seem to want to stick to the story.
Matheus Lopes opens the series by showing readers a scene they might recognize. A stunning Briar Rose stands, and a soft yellow glow appears to radiate from her. The attention of the townsfolk in the background makes it apparent how important she is to the story. Later in the issue, as an awakened Brair navigates her kingdom, there is no longer a glow to her. This doesn’t indicate she is no less important to a story – merely a matter of whose.
Narration is a major part of fairy tales and Briar makes sure to point this out. The narrator of this comic is none other than Briar. Her original narrator is dead which leaves the woman to write her own story, which is a tangle of bramble. Because does she even know anymore?
Much of this first issue of Briar deals with the young woman adjusting to the reality she awakens to.. Chris Cantwell in refusing other stories of Sleeping Beauty that have been handed down has seemingly found one hidden in the bush. Briar awakens to a world, covered in thorns, that did not sleep with her; however, it does now – eternally. It seems that the true thorn in this princess’s fairy tale has taken the shape of a crown. The kingdom did not enter into slumber because it didn’t suffer sorrow – the king turned to war instead of woe. If it was a splinter that started this it seems it all ended due to a sword.
This leads to another sticky subject which Briar begins to explore in the opener. The princess reminds readers at the story’s start that the sleep she suffered was a spell. German Garcia devotes an in-panel page to provide readers with the powerful moment Brair’s curse is broken. But, as any fan of the Disney classic will recall, both the princess and kingdom were only to reawaken upon true love’s kiss. This creates an opportunity for both artists to evolve this Sleeping Beauty entry. Instead of the Fantasia floral filter, Briar is full of more The Black Cauldron colors. A kingdom is less magic and more merciless.
There is a lot of spoken emotion in Briar as the princess attempts to rationalize her situation. This leads to this first issue being a visual and narrated comic. The quick divergence of something familiar twists this comic book into a tragic tale. With no Aurora in this story, Briar looks to head into the dark thickets.