Zenescope Entertainment has begun in 2005 to publish revisited classical Grimm Fairy Tales, like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast or even Rapunzel. In 2015 it launched a mini-series around the fairy tales The Little Mermaid. It has been written by Meredith Finch and drawn by Miguel Mendonça. Miguel Mendonça (1984-) drew some other Grimm Fairy Tales for Zenescope, like the six issues mini-series Warlord of Oz (2014). He also worked for the independent editor Magnetic Press on the four issues mini-series Sidekicks (2015). Finally, Miguel Mendonça drew for DC Comics one issue of Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman #47, 2015) and two issues of Teen Titans (Teen Titans #15 and #17, 2015-2016).
It all began with a shipwreck. A merman rescues a young woman, falls in love with her and gets her pregnant. Twenty years later, we find the baby girl, Erica, all grown up and fighting against mechanical octopuses. She has the ability to turn into a monstrous creature, more animal than human. Her face changes into the one of a monster’s, with sharp teeth and pointy horns on her head. She doesn’t look like the pretty girl she was one minute ago. Miguel Mendonça managed to draw a pretty terrifying creature instead of the beautiful young mermaid we’re used to. Maybe he remembered the greek myth, according to which the mermaid aren’t beautiful creatures but rather deadly ones, and whose body is half-bird and half-human rather than half-fish and half-human. Miguel Mendonça has merged these two mythological images into a horrifying and dangerous one. She’s even more dreadful than the greek myth’s mermaids. Luckily for her – and for us – her transformation is temporary. She quickly regains her true face and swims away from the cyborgs to find refuge on a small piece of land, under a camera’s surveillance. The little mermaid Erica is trapped, and her fight against the octopus was an experiment orchestrated by a mad scientist to test her newly gained powers .
Erica’s mother, Liz, hasn’t stopped searching for her missing daughter since she’s been kidnapped right after her birth. While jogging on the beach, a well-known face appears in front of her and offers her help to find Erica. It’s the Seawitch, who helped Liz and her prince to get together twenty years ago. Rather than the old witch from Andersen’s fairy tale and the fat one from Disney’s Little Mermaid, Miguel Mendonça‘s Seawitch looks like an amazing creature, half-human half-octopus. Her tentacles aside, she could easily pass for a model. She is the ultimate temptress, who could have had an affair with the King of the oceans – maybe she has, maybe she hasn’t, who knows? I just love her attitude towards Liz who’s rather surprised and hostile. She didn’t expect and she’s not happy to see her here. What’s the history between these two? Didn’t the witch help the merman to get together with Liz? But what did she ask in return? Maybe she is the one who stole Erica from her mother’s arms? Or maybe she had an affair with Liz’ merman, explaining why Liz seems to live a lonely life, dedicated only to find her daughter. Anyway, the Seawitch is just an amazing character, surrounded with mysteries, but so beautifully drawn by Miguel Mendonça that I just love every one of her appearances.
Turns out the Seawitch really wanted to help Liz find Erica. She presents herself in front of Issoro, Liz’ merman and the new king of the seas. Like Liz, Issoro doesn’t seem glad to see the witch – it’s the last we can say before his clenched jaws and clenched fist on his trident. Despite the fact that Issoro doesn’t want to get involved with the witch ever again, she has a final argument to put on the table, an argument which is still hidden under a drape behind her. Issoro is clearly reluctant to listen to her because of their past, as witness his face half plunged into the shadow and his melancholic look. Contrary to the colored image of the comic-book, the drawing in black and white strengthens the impression of might Issoro exudes. His muscles are well designed and visible, so are his veins on his pecs and biceps. In front of this mighty muscular merman, the Seawitch doesn’t seem so powerful … until Miguel Mendonça draws a close-up on her face and she starts smiling. The frail witch is in a position of strength, and she obviously knows it right before unveilling her surprise to Issoro.
Learning where his daughter is holding prisoner, Issoro raised an army to rescue her. Unfortunately, Erica has already escaped from the laboratory, and the merman army is being slaughtered by mutants created by the mad doctor and his team of scientists. Stuck between rescuing his daughter and saving his army and his people, Issoro has no choice but to sound the retreat. The eyes filled with tears, Issoro has to abandon his daughter once again. The job of a king is not an easy one, and it’s even more difficult to make a choice when a member of your family is involved. The bottom half-page is one of my favourite drawing of the series. Miguel Mendonça managed to represent a noble but defeated king, who has understood the fate of his people is more important than the life of his own daughter. Despite his helmet, our entire attention his drawn to Issoro’s sad eyes.
Warned by a mysterious voice – the Seawitch’s – Erica turned back towards the laboratory to end the experiments and get revenge on the mad scientists. She turns into her monstrous form, ready to kick some scientists’ asses. What a surprise for her to discover an army of mermen, and her father, trapped in the laboratory. Erica appears in backlight, like the savior of all the mermen, of her people. In backlight, Issoro doesn’t seem to see Erica’s monstrous form, and when she hands her hand to him, she’s back in her natural form. I’m very fond of the last panel on which Issoro’s and Erica’s hands are on the verge to touch one another for the very first time. The series reaches it apex in this single frozen moment.
I’ve discovered Miguel Mendonça‘s work with this series, wich I’ve start reading because of its subject, the Little Mermaid. Now I can’t wait to see his other works, especially Teen Titans. Meredith Finch and Miguel Mendonça managed to rejuvenate the classical fairy tales which is The Little Mermaid with a strongly orientated story and wonderful drawings which strengthens the feelings of disgust and disdain towards the human scientists. In the name of science, the humans are capable of everything, even the most horrifying things.