Aspen Universe: Decimation #3 (Comic Book Review)

Orlana, The Death Princess, faces off against Rainier in a duel pitting machine against magic! Meanwhile, Grace of Empyrea enters the battle-ridden Everlands only to find those impacted by the dark magical lyrics in their head…

Aspen Universe: Decimation #3
Writer: Vince Hernandez
Pencils: Marco Renna
Digi-Inks: Mark Roslan
Color Artists: Federico Blee
Lettering: Zen
Publisher: Aspen Comics

What You Need to Know:

Orlana, The Death Princess, has gathered some of the most powerful women in existence by using dark magical lyrics that consume their thoughts. Using her power to control the minds of others, she set into motion a series of catastrophic events enabling her power to grow. After she resurrected the Executive Assistant Lily to overthrow the powerful Master Ren, Rainier utilized the technological abilities of Mr. Abel to build a weapon and go back in time to confront The Death Princess. While Terza and Jayden struggle ruling their new empire in the present according to the lyrics in their heads, Ember and Terra show up just in time to save Hank the Magician from his mind-controlled cat Sparkles.

What You’ll Find Out:

As Orlana, The Death Princess witnesses Rainer’s mechanical weapon devastate her armies before her temple, she explains to Evani that his mind cannot be controlled, and even if it could, she would refuse such hatred for their kind. Orlana now understands the mistakes of her past and knows she must kill Rainier. Instead of controlling her foes, she must instead start over mankind itself.

Inside his monstrous mechanized weapon, Rainier has felt Orlana’s attempts to penetrate his mind, but he knows the surrounding hardware protects him. As they continue laying waste to Orlana’s armies, he knows his only hope is with Onyx.

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In the present, Hank the Magician, Theo, and their friends are being attacked by a mind-controlled Sparkles when Ember and Terra appear to “rescue” them. The lyrics driving Ember and Terra tear at their minds, demanding submission to their will. Although Ember describes it as a drug more powerful than anything you can possibly imagine, both Hank and Theo eventually volunteer to help them. In an abrupt display of courage, Theo commands that Terra and Ember leave his friends alone and take him to their masters.

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In the Everlands, Terza walks amongst the carnage and destruction of her kingdom, questioning what they have caused. As the battle continues all around, Grace of Empyrea confronts Jayden refusing to allow their tyrannical rule to upset the balance of time and magic itself. As Grace admits that she knows about the magic of The Death Princess, a dragon blind-sides her, sending her flailing into the air. Then, her own dragon Mooncrest appears and flies directly into Jayden’s with a loud shriek, engaging in a terrifying duel. Recovering from her blow, Grace begs Mooncrest not to kill another dragon when she is struck by Jayden and hurled violently into the ground below. As Jayden mocks her for always being the caregiver and prepares a finishing blow, Terza strikes her in the face, sending her to her knees. Confused, Jayden tells Terza that she cannot just ignore the lyrics in their head. Terza agrees but tells Jayden that she does not have to follow them if they do not feel right. Despite the magical lyrics ringing in their head, they are still their own masters, and there is still time to right their wrongs. Just then, Hank the Magician, Ember, Terra, Theo, and their friends arrive in the Everlands uniting with Terza, Jayden, and Grace.

Back at Orlana, The Death Princess’s temple, Rainier’s mechanical weapon continues to battle her armies. It is revealed, however, that the monstrous weapon is simply meant to keep Orlana’s army at bay while Onyx reaches the temple. After slaughtering countless guards, Onyx confronts Evani inside the temple, who attempts to recruit her. As Onyx refuses, a man comes from the shadows named Cole and restrains Evani. When Onyx begins to interrogate her, Evani explains that her magic is not a weapon, it’s a curse. Using her powers, she unleashes a blast that sends Cole flailing helplessly and readies herself for the fight with Onyx.

During this battle, Orlana feels her dark magic failing and decides that if she cannot control Rainier, she will cause him pain. Lifting her arms slightly, she brings excruciating agony to Rainier’s mind, sending him to the floor writhing and screaming.

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Meanwhile, Onyx overpowers Evani and by channeling the powers of the druid Sudana, painfully extracts crucial information from her mind. Those under the influence of the dark lyrics are immediately impacted, as they grasp their ears in agony, unaware of what is transpiring. As the pain fades, Ember mentions seeing a temple in the middle of the jungle, under siege by forces of technology and magic. This startles Grace, but she is interrupted when Hank appears claiming that he knows where they need to go.

While Rainier struggles with the ceaseless pain leaving him incapacitated, his army moves on to the second phase of their invasion of the temple, releasing countless deadly drones throughout the area. Orlana looks down upon this destruction with disgust when Hank interrupts. She turns around to see Hank, Grace, Theo, Ember, Terra and their friends all standing ready to confront her. As Grace tells The Death Princess that magic is not a tool to be used for tyranny, Orlana thanks them for walking right into her trap.

Inside the temple, Onyx reaches the druid Sudana and thanking her for loaning her powers as help, releases the bonds restraining her. Sudana explains that she knew she could signal the others if given the right circumstance, and thanks Onyx for allowing that to happen. Then surrounded by Grace, Ember, Terra, Hank, Theo, and others who are all now under mind-control, Orlana, The Death Princess, claims everyone as her property and declares the true war to have just begun.

What Just Happened?

Aspen Universe: Decimation #3 is an amalgamation of several prominent characters in a time-traveling perilous journey to stop Orlana, The Death Princess. In a crossover event that threatens no soul to be safe, the third entry, unfortunately, continues to feel like the calm before the storm. There is destruction on a large scale and a few epic battles, but the major characters appear to be stuck reacting to predetermined events until the correct moment arrives forcing them to coalesce into a formidable group. While this is convenient for the continuation of the storyline, it lacks the ability to motivate complete immersion for readers. Luckily, the investment does pay off with a shocking cliffhanger!

Writer Vince Hernandez has managed to weave multiple complex plotlines in each issue throughout this event, and he does so again in this issue. Coordinating the past and present times isn’t always an easy task, but the creative team delivered another reading experience that transitions quite effortlessly, despite suffering from pacing issues.

The artistic quality at Aspen Comics is an aspect that has never been in dispute, and their high standards are on full display in the latest issue of Aspen Universe: Decimation. Brilliant landscapes are made beautiful by vivid colors that accentuate the uniqueness of not only the characters involved but the world in which they live and die. Orlana, The Death Princess and Grace of Empyrea benefit greatly from this artistic quality, as their characters stunningly represent light and dark through both design and color.

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The third entry in Aspen’s latest crossover is packed with character development and beautifully rendered panels but has the potential for so much more. This fact is highlighted by the brilliant cliffhanger at the end that essentially guarantees my purchase of the next and final issue in the event. Although it can be tedious at times, Aspen Universe: Decimation #3 is a worthy entry in a crossover that promises to be their deadliest event yet.

Rating: 7/10

Final Thoughts: Aspen Universe: Decimation #3 continues an explosive crossover event with intriguing character development and magnificent artwork, but pacing difficulties hinder the issue from truly flourishing into something grand. Despite this, the creative team delivers an entertaining read with a cliffhanger that will leave you absolutely captivated and begging for more!

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