Image Comics has made a name for itself as the go-to place for creators to tell the stories they want – completely free from editorial restraints and censorship. As a result, the publisher has seen an influx of quality and complex comics for mature readers. Saga, Wytches, and Deadly Class are just three series by Image which belong nowhere near the eyes of a child. Because of the marquee talent involved in those titles, an all-ages title can fly under the radar. It’s a rather unfortunate turn of events, resulting in some gems going unnoticed by consumers, such as the new series Penny Dora & The Wishing Box #1 by Michael Stock and Sina Grace.
Curiously enough, this series began as a re-imagining of the Pandora’s Box myth by Stock’s own daughter, Nico. It is unsurprising, given it’s history, that Penny Dora maintains a child-like sense of both innocence and wonder throughout its 28 pages. What is perhaps most endearing about the title is that, despite its supernatural premise, it is grounded by a familial situation which is painfully real.
Penny Dora & The Wishing Box #1 introduces readers to the titular Penny Dora, the daughter of a divorced couple that lives with her mother and pet cat, Iggy. Despite the circumstances, Penny and her family seem to live well-adjusted, jovial lives in a pleasant suburban home. Adding to to the book’s overall feel is the setting: Christmas day and a child’s joy from opening presents. Among the various packages is one that is unmarked, later revealed to contain the titular wishing box. This series may have been born from a reimagining of the legend of Pandora’s Box, but the classic “magic lamp” trope seems to be a more direct inspiration.
Being that neither Penny nor her mother know where the box came from, they decide to open it together and make a wish. Grace does a solid job in efficiently and effectively conveying the wishes of our three main characters (yes, Iggy makes a wish too) without the aid of Stock’s narration. Penny Dora is an overly dense read at times, but the few breaks such as this show that Grace has a talent for sequential storytelling. Furthermore, the payoff of this scene in the issue’s closing pages is both hilarious and tantilizing for readers.
Penny Dora & The Wishing Box #1 is a charming addition to Image’s portfolio. Though at times too heavy handed for it’s own good, Michael Stock has managed to bring a refreshing take to a tired formula. Sina Grace’s beautiful artwork – especially his vibrant pastels – give the title a unique, magical look. Anyone looking for a fun, whimsical escape should consider adding this to their pull list. It may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely worth skimming through before making a decision.