Review by Gareth Hughes
Please Note: Plot spoilers are present in this review
The long awaited Once Upon a Time graphic novel from Marvel is out now and gives us a closer look into The Huntsman’s past along with his twisted relationship with Regina, The Evil Queen.
Shadow of the Queen is a hardcover graphic novel consisting of four chapters and behind the scenes bonus material. Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist: Michael del Mundo, Vasilis Lolos, Mike Henderson and Mike Kaluta.
The story starts immediately following the events depicted in Episode 7 of Season One, “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.” The Huntsman has failed to murder Snow White and, as punishment, Regina took his heart. He is now under her direct control and Regina uses him to do her bidding, whether it's collecting tributes or servicing the highly charged vixen in her private bed chamber.
Still bent on revenge, Regina devises a new plan to rid herself of Snow White by using the Huntsman's former werewolf pack to track her down. When the pack comes across Snow, they recognize Red and it is revealed that the pack is also connected to Anita, Red's mother, who Red killed in order to save her friend. A power struggle ensues, leaving Red and Snow caught between enemies on all sides.
These plot points fit nicely into the canon of the series overall and help tie up some loose ends with regard to what happened to Anita's pack and the events immediately following the aftermath of her death in the Season 2 episode,“Child of the Moon.
The novel, while not providing anything deep, is regarded as an official “canon” story within the series and does help to fill in the blanks, showcasing the relationship between Regina and The Huntsman. My one criticism is that the novel presents a very one dimensional portrayal of the Evil Queen. She is very much a stock villain caricature in this novel, with none of the subtleties and nuances that Lana Parrilla brings to the role so well. There is also the spark of a potential romance between The Huntsman and Red that seems to come out of nowhere towards the end of the novel, leaving you wondering how that scenario would have played out in the series had the Huntsman lived.
Overall the story is entertaining, but with only 4 short chapters, the read is over far too soon. For hardcore Once Upon A Time fans however, the graphic novel is a good investment and a nice addition to any collection.