Category Archives: Reviews

Versus #1 Review


Written and Created by: Adeniyi Adeniji
Art by: Dayo Animashaun
Cover art: Nsikak “Paps” Ifet
Cover Colors: Harriet Opara

This installment of reviews I took a trip to Africa, well not really but I was fortunate enough to land a copy of Versus, the flagship title from Nigerian publisher Comic Bandit Press. Our story opens up on a distant planet named, New Genesis (not the one you’re thinking). Here a small time thief is being chased by three hooded harbingers of terror, who scare the life out of everyone they encounter.
          Apparently the poor brigand is carrying something the trio wants, something important enough to die for. This precludes a galaxy wide call to arms to face an oncoming and unknown threat.
          I enjoyed this story for what it was, a sci-fantasy romp that had hints of both War Hammer 40k and Shadow Skill at its edges, setting the tone of the worlds. The interactions between the characters of Jabari, and Haruna were entertaining if not a little cliché. I enjoyed the character of Ohin for his cavalier attitude in the face of what was to come and while Mustafa wasn’t particularly deep he did give some greater insight into the characters inner relationships.
          The art was hit or miss with certain characters being wonderfully detailed and others being sloppily done, a trait that carries over to the landscape, buildings and even vehicles.
          The thing I enjoyed the most about the story was the Nigerian cultural nuances conveyed through language and action. Like Anime/Manga this comic introduces readers to certain verbal idiosyncrasies held by the Nigerian people, making the setting very endearing and unique. I give Versus #1 a 3/5


 

The Legend of Will Power #1 Review


Written, Created, Penciled and Inked by: Vince White

  

The Legend of Will Power opens up in the future with the great teller, a large space Viking in a toga spinning, a tale to a trio of godlings about our titular hero. He goes on to reveal that before Will no other Gods existed in the universe, flash back to the present where Will is playing a high school football game. We get some narration about his premature birth and how his father, Professor Jonathan was the only one who knew he would survive. After the game, William his , girlfriend Dee and his best friend Abbot head out to the flats where his father’s laboratory is stationed. Here the professor shows them a number of his inventions including the Matter Density Converter, which you guessed it alters the density of objects placed in it. We also get a look at his Fifth Dimensional stasis chamber which shifts anything inside of it 5 degrees outside of our dimension.  During the tour something goes wrong and the Matter Density Converter malfunctions causing the entire fabric of reality to be altered, but not before Jonathan pushes Will safely into the 5D stasis chamber, from there on the story takes an interesting turn.

          This book is an example of how do indie comics like a professional.  The art while black and white is crisp, the main character is extremely likeable and wholesome without being campy.  It also features one of the most original and refreshing origin stories I’ve read in a long time, with a set up for a bigger more exciting universe.

           The only issues I had were that I would’ve like to see more interaction with Will and his father to make their relationship more impactful, also color would have made the comic shine.I give The Legend of Will Power# 1 a 4/5.

Maxwell’s Mini Reviews Swag Patrol# 1

I’m back and while I was gone I got to read a number of comics. One of those comics was “Swag Patrol” and while skeptical at first I decided to give it a shot. It’s the story of the Rashad, Maya and Chris, a trio of friends doused with a chemical concoction one day, while playing around in a high school chem lab. During the night each of them awake to find that they have been endowed with extraordinary powers. With the help of their science teacher Dr. Tre they struggle to understand their abilities and try to make a difference in the world.


Hits: 
 Story hopes to convey a positive message.
Misses:
        Characters lack depth
        Dialogue is laden with Exposition and Cliche
        Scenes that are meant to expound on characters seem trite. Also things that are supposed to be character development are used as plot device.
        Spelling errors throughout.
Rating: 1.5/5

Review: Virgin Wolf #1 Or Who’s Afraid?

Previously…
Some time ago, I reviewed One Nation # 1, a comic written by Jason Reeves and Alverne Ball. It’s a book I think everyone should read and it introduced me to the undiscovered talent Ball possessed. I later learned that he was working on a solo series called Virgin Wolf and figured it’d make a great follow-up to ON.
 

Situation

The story opens with our main character, Virgin, making her way through a hive of scum and villainy. Here, she has a sword to heart talk with the guards of a notorious noble, who is spending some ‘quality time’ with a woman of the evening.  Of course the noble, named Louie ‘The loon’ Granville, doesn’t take too kindly to this interruption, and responds by transforming into a werewolf before attacking Virgin. Unshaken by this, our heroine confronts him head on, effectively removing his (head) from his shoulders during their exchange. What follows is a manhunt, for his killer and reveals Virgin’s quest for vengeance. 


Story

While not a fan of medieval setting, I do like the fact that Ball used the common misconceptions of women in that era to Virgin’s advantage. In the eyes of any man, a woman would be incapable of hurting anyone let alone killing Louie, allowing her to get away with it. Virgin however, proves that she is a forced to be reckoned with, conjuring images of Frank Miller’s Electra in her prime. We’re also introduced to the son of the area’s duke, who while still unnamed, seems like he’ll have a bit of emotional depth to him. The brief exchanges with his father are enough to paint a sympathetic portrait of a young man hungry for admiration. It’s also interesting that the roles in the comic, at least in my eyes seem to be a bit reversed. Virgin is the take no prisoners bad ass and the duke’s son is compassionate, uncommon for something from this time period. My only problem is that I feel that more could have been done in this issue. The ending could’ve had more impact and the reason for Virgin’s crusade could’ve been made clearer.


Pictures

Max Bartomucci’s pencil’s and inks add something of a rustic look to the piece. It’s exactly how I imagine medieval France should look and feel like. The bar at the beginning of the story looks unsanitary in an authentic way. Adriana De Los Santos’ coloring is a great compliment to the illustrations. They are vivid when they need to be, like in the case of Virgin’s golden hair and subdued like in the brick work of the buildings.

The Real

This was a great showing from writer Alverne Ball and his creative team. The villains were despicable, the heroes likable, and the action was fast paced. I look forward to seeing more of this series and more from its writer. You can find Virgin Wolf # 1 on: ariondmg.com

Rating 4.5/5

Maxwell’s Mini Reviews: Chained Gun Vol. 1

I recently got around to reading Chained Gun Vol.1, a graphic novel created by Donny Morris and published by LGM books. Upon first glance, CG didn’t look spectacular, but then again most gems don’t. Chained Gun tells the story of Gallie “The Gun” a freed slave living in the American West. Our hero was raised by a mysterious man along with other orphan’s who were experimented on for the purpose of evolution. He and two of his adopted siblings escape, then join the union army during the civil war. They gain fame as great warriors, but Donovan Taft, one of the trio, betrays their allies,killing their whole platoon save for Gallie and his bother Ghost Hawk. Gallie, who stands accused of the crime, must now fight to clear his name and finally gain his freedom.
 

Hits:
 + The art perfectly sets the tone of the world.
 + Gallie’s character is cool and sympathetic.    
 + Adalina is a strong female character.
 + Story compels and engages 

Misses:

  Art is at times inconsistent and hard to follow.
Donovan’s betrayal is never explained. 

Rating: 4/5

 You can purchase Chained Gun Vol 1 on Amazon.com

Harlem Shadow # 2 Review Or A Hell up in Harlem


Previously…

Some time ago, I came across Raven Hammer Comics in my search for indie black books. Created by writer Brian Williams, Raven Hammer published three original comics, and the most appealing of the trio was the Harlem Shadow. I bought the first issue to see if it was as cool on the inside as it was on outside, and when issue two came out I had no choice but to buy that too.

 

Situation

This issue features two short stories.  The first sees our eponymous hero paying a visit to a local dive, where he has a fist to face or belt to ass conversation with Willie Bourbon. Willie is the abusive husband of Giselle, who happens to be a friend of the Harlem Shadow’s. He (Willie) is also an employee of ‘Bossman’ who seems to run most of Harlem’s criminal underworld, setting the stage for a larger story. The second tale goes inside reporter Nigel Shaw’s attempt to build the Shadow’s publicity, and sell his boss Walter Rhodes on the idea. They plan to use the Midnight Sun, the paper Rhodes owns, to target the various organized crime figures in Harlem. All the while letting the world know that black people now have a superhero of their own, to fight their battles, as the first knight in the kingdom of Harlem. 


Story

This issue shows that Williams has a command of both storytelling and mythos building. The story feels like a classic pulp novel but with modern-day comic book trappings, giving the sense that something big is building. The Harlem Shadow continues to epitomize the cool that was the Harlem Renaissance, dispensing justice with style and an unmistakably black flare. How he deals with Willie Bourbon is especially fun to watch considering the man’s crimes. We’re also introduced to villains like Sweet Tooth, a homicidal pimp, and Maggot Brain an undead gangster bring to mind the rouges gallery of another dark knight. If a hero is only as good as his villains, I’ve got a feeling that HS will be one bad ass mutha.
 

 

Pictures

The inks and lines of Rodolfo Buscaglia perfectly encapsulate the noir cool of the book. From action scene to conversation, I feel like I am in 1920’s Harlem. His strong art style brings definition and not only captures the pulp genre but the renaissance itself. Usually I would prefer a book to be in color, however, anything but black and white would have compromised the feel of this work, so I’m glad Williams and Buscaglia went with it.

The Real

The Harlem Shadow is one of the few black comics I’ve read that does African-American vigilante well. There isn’t a hint of stereotype in this book, and while that could be due to the time period, I think it may also lie in Williams’ ability to tell a story without cliché. Whatever the reason Raven Hammer is doing a great job of building a world, and with a cartoon for HS in the works I hope we’ll be seeing more soon. You can buy the Harlem Shadow on: Amazon.com orRaven Hammer Comics
Rating 5/5

 

Maxwell’s Mini Review: Battle Masterz # 1

 
Over the weekend, I got around to looking for little known, but impressive looking black creator owned comics. In my search, I happened upon Battle Masterz, created by Antuan, Sha, and Roland Broussard. BM is the story of Rymz. A man gifted with the lyrical prowess of Rakim, and the reality altering abilities of Scarlet Witch. These gifts put him on the radar of Plague, a secret organization with bad intentions. Our hero is assisted in his evasion of Plague by Delilah, a cabbie who is as beautiful as she is deadly. This femme fatale is tasked with aiding our boy into the near future.

The book looks incredible. The art done by, Ivan Anaya, Katrina Alberto, and Sherwin Santiago harkens back to the golden days of Capcom. The writing does the same, unfortunately Capcom was never known for storytelling . The vignettes that make up the book are a bit jarring and towards the end, they’re just plain confusing. It’s a case of beautiful art hampered by writing. The idea of hip hop as a weapon and a means to change the world for the better is a good idea. However, the overall delivery was hurt by the message, and ultimately the book. You can buy this book at Battlemasterz.com
Rating: 2.5/5

Re-Maxed Review: One Nation # 1 Or All You Can Be, Too

Previously…

A while back, I reviewed One Nation #1, a comic created by Jason Reeves and John Ruben Milton for the company 133art. The story was penned by Virgin Wolf scribe Alverne Ball , and turned out to be one of the best comics I’ve ever read. When I learned the book was being re-released on Comixology, I figured I’d give it a more professional read through; and see if it still held up. 


Situation

Deacon is a young military man stationed in Kuwait circa 1991. He also has a secret and it’s not the one that the current president repealed, but something that would be taboo even today. When his platoon is pinned in a fire fight, Deacon reveals his gifts in the form of, super strength, speed and agility. With these, he tears through insurgents and almost single-handedly wins the war. When the U.S. government and its shadow cabinet rulers get wind of his activities, they decide to make him a hero. Press conferences, congressional medals and the name “Paragon” are perks that come with being the United States’ first superhero. But Deacon will soon learn not all that glitters is gold and that he is not the only one of his kind.

Story

Alverne Ball is one of the best undiscovered talents I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and I say that in all seriousness. His captions, which are both emotional and informative without being expositional nightmares, do a great job endearing us to the character. The dialogue defines the character relationships, investing the reader in them, and though Deacon’s origin is similar to a certain blue boy scout, it doesn’t feel like a carbon copy. Reeves, Ball and Milton have not created an analog like so many others. What they have done is crafted a character with a sense of familiarity and individuality, using the best parts of classic comic mythos and making it their own. 


Pictures

Jason Reeve’s penciling style tells this story so well. His angular yet full faces do a lot to make the characters feel like living, breathing humans. His ability to illustrate landscapes is something I missed on my first read, but whether it was the rolling fields of Louisiana, or the dust blown battle grounds in Kuwait, it set a wonderful tone. Colorist Luis Guerrero’s ability to accentuate the dull lifelessness of blown out cities, or the calm of back country roads is a visual delight, and this art team is another reason this indie book has professional written all over it.

The Real

I am still in love with this book and I see it as a standard-bearer for independent black comics. I think everyone should be reading this, supporting its creators and maybe taking notes. I am definitely looking forward to the second issue because, my friends, this is how universes are born. You can buy One Nation at the following, 133comics,Comixology, Amazon and Pulp free publishing

Foreign Matter: Vol 1 Review Or In the Air


Previously…

A while back, during my first excursion into comics, I searched for examples of successful indie books. What worked, what didn’t and how others were building their fan base. In my search, I stumbled upon a comic called Foreign Matter, a story about the media, perception and what would happen if superheroes actually existed.


Situation

At the start of the book, the reader is treated to an article about a confrontation between Virtus, FM’s version of Superman, and Acturon, an atomic monster. The article details the battle and gives us a bit of insight into how the world views Metaheroes, as they’re called. Cut to a zombie attack in Champion city, a fictional metropolis akin to, well Metropolis. Here we’re introduced to the Champion Coalition, this worlds Justice League analog, complete with crime fighting billionaire, Phantasm Prime, and the seasoned Amazonian warrior, Femina. A number of other colorful characters such as the robotic genius Cranium Case and the genetically altered Gentleman who is as poetic as he is ferocious, round out the team. When our heroes discover that the source of the undead disturbance is Salma, a young woman unfortunate enough to open Pandora’s Box, a series of events unfold that expose the hero’s, vulnerabilities, short-comings and most of all their humanity.


Story

What writer Martin John has done in this comic, is take beloved superhero arch-types and made them fun again. Not unlike the hyper-violence of the Authority or the over sexed heroes in The Boys, John shrouds his characters in drama. From the moonlit rendezvous of Virtus and Femina, to the roof top intervention of Phantasm Prime, we have a recipe for a good reality T.V. show. However, drama isn’t the books only draw as members of the Coalition begin to die and Virtus’ mysterious origins come back to haunt him. The thing I love most about this story, is how it uses media, mainly fake ads and blogs, to inform the reader about the world without the need for exposition. That brings me to another great thing about the world of Foreign Matter, and that is ‘superhero as celebrity’. There seem to be whole careers built upon the coverage of Metahero/ Methuman activity, both in and out of the crime fighting world. This angle makes the book feel like a fresh take, instead of a Supreme Power rip-off.


Pictures

German Ponce’s ability to add realism to a fantastic landscape is another reason I dig FM. From the intricate designs on Pandora’s box, to Cranium Case’s various metal caprices, to the luscious lips on Femina , this world looks real. That being said I’d love to see this comic in color at some point and hope that both John and Ponce have that in the works. My only issue is that some background designs look like they were borrowed from other comics, such as the creatures wreaking havoc on the city.

The Real

The biggest impression I get from Foreign Matter, is that John and Ponce took time to develop it. From the story to the character designs, this doesn’t have all the tell-tale markings of a rushed indie book. On the contrary, it seems to be an attempt at the big leagues and if this is just the beginning, I cannot wait to see what else they have in store for us. You can pick up this book on Amazon.com or on Foreignmattercomics.com
Rating: 5/5