Bruce Dickinson - The Mandrake Project Chapter 1 / Z2 Comics (2024) 

Bruce Dickinson – The Mandrake Project (Chapter 1 Graphic Novel Review)

Beyond being one of the most beloved vocalists in the Heavy Metal world, Bruce Dickinson is also recognized as a colorful storyteller. Distinguished by his unmistakable voice that is filled with inflection, add to it a lively, animated stage presence, and Dickinson’s creativity has shined through during his years with Iron Maiden, as well as a solo artist. Showing brilliance as a co-songwriter many times over with Iron Maiden – such as on tracks like 1984’s “2 Minutes to Midnight” or 1988’s “Can I Play with Madness” – he has also engaged audiences with fantastic solo works too, including the 1997 album Accident of Birth.

Fast-forward to 2024, Dickinson is not only returning with his first solo album since 2004’s Tyranny of Souls, but also his first ever comic book series. Releasing the album The Mandrake Project on March 1st, the long overdue return was met with positive acclaim from long-time fans and critics alike. Then, just months prior to the album’s release, Dickinson, in partnership with Z2 Comics, put out Chapter 1 of the new comic series, also entitled The Mandrake Project. Releasing Chapter 1 on January 17th, the 12-issue series was preceded by Chapter 2 on March 20th, Chapter 3 is due out on June 26th, Chapter 4 on September 25th, before Chapter 5 wraps up the calendar year on December 18th. With more to follow, it is important to understand the origin of this series before diving deeper into it all.

First and foremost, it should be noted that apparently Dickinson had the idea for a comic book series for many years now; however, due to a busy schedule with Iron Maiden, among other things, it never came to fruition. Then, after penning the Revelations chapter of the 2023 Piece of Mind graphic novel, it seemed a collaboration with Z2 Comics for his own series was fitting. That said, it should be noted that The Mandrake Project album itself and the comic series can be looked at as 2 separate entities. Yes, they follow a similar theme, but in-all, are independent from one another in terms of the ways the music and storylines play out. More of a companion to each other, it would probably be smart to listen to the album prior for broader understanding of the concepts. However, it is of high probability you have already done so being a fan of Dickinson.

Bruce Dickinson - The Mandrake Project Chapter 1
Bruce Dickinson – The Mandrake Project Chapter 1 / Z2 Comics (2024) 

Nonetheless, the story of The Mandrake Project is one you can easily follow, yet it is still filled with plenty of intrigue. In short, it has a Sci-Fi vibe, but something not out of the realm of reality due to the developments in modern technologies. A case of humans arrogantly meddling with nature, the question is – can we play God? Or, in the case of the religion of science… is science God itself, and should we have the conceit to believe we can control it?

Powerful questions to ponder in these less than ordinary times, in Dickinson’s The Mandrake Project you have a corporation developing something that aims to take the human soul at the point of death, capture it, store it, and put it back in something entirely different. The father of this company, Professor Lazarus, has one vision of what he wants to do, meanwhile on the other side of the coin, Dr. Necropolis has a much different idea. This plot is laid out in Chapter 1, naturally the story develops as the series moves along.

Compelling, the Dickinson project finds him working with a creative team that includes, but is not limited to, Writer Tony Lee (Doctor Who, Marvel, DC), Artist Stanz Johnson (Marvel, DC), multiple Eisner-winner Bill Sienkiewicz (who painted the cover), along editing by Eisner and Harvey-winner Rantz A. Hoseley. An all-star creative cast, what The Mandrake Project gives you is a classic looking comic storyboard, a plot that moves along at a good pace, and illustrations that keep you involved. This stated, it should be noted that it is certainly for a more mature audience; as there is adult language and imagery used throughout.

All in all, The Mandrake Project is an ambitious undertaking by Bruce Dickinson. Not only different, thus far, it is proving to work quite well. That is why Cryptic Rock is enticed to see where this whole saga goes from here, giving Chapter 1 and the initial intent of The Mandrake Project 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Bruce Dickinson - The Mandrake Project Chapter 1
Bruce Dickinson – The Mandrake Project Chapter 1 / Z2 Comics (2024)

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