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

 

Tech Watch # 1 Review Or Welcome to the A.N.T.S farm.


Previously…

Not too long ago I had heard of a comic called Tech Watch, created by writer Radi Lewis and published by his Chameleon Creations imprint. It was a sci-fi, espionage book with cool art and a promising story, so when I got my cash up I sprung for a copy to see what the deal was.


Situation

At the beginning of the book, we find ourselves witnessing a raid in progress. The black ops mercenary group known as the A.N.T.S(Assault. Nano. Tech. Soldiers) led by Isaiah Grey infiltrate the laboratory of Dr. Sebastian Lyons who possesses technology that, is important to Isaiah’s research. Initially, Isaiah had asked Lyons to join his organization to pool their knowledge, but the good doctor refused prompting the invasion. With a gun to his head and the A.N.T.S surrounding him Dr. Lyons is dead to rights, or is he, as the team search his lab and find no way to interface with his computers. What’s worse there the doctor can’t be threatened, with Isaiah doing his best not to give Lyons a lead lobotomy, the doctor unveil his master stroke. He unleashes a virus, which begins to eat away at the A.N.T.S hard drive in their HQ known as the ‘Hive’. Fed up with Sebastian’s defiance, Isaiah executes him, copies the knowledge directly from the doctors brain and exits. That is where the real story starts as eight months later someone or something takes Isaiah’s base in the Arctic Circle offline, someone looking for revenge.

Story

Radi Lewis, paints the portrait of a man willing to do anything he has to get what he want in this Spy-Fi epic, however it is not made clear why the reader should be invested. Isaiah Grey reminds me of a cross between Nino Brown and Lex Luthor. I wouldn’t consider either man endearing, but both have their complexities and reasons why we love to hate them. I wish I could love to hate Isaiah, but I just can’t seem to be bothered. His braggadocio and lust for power are fine, but they’re surface, and back story is much-needed. Dr. Lyons seems like he could have been an interesting character but dies too early and we eventually learn he wanted the same thing as Grey and that’s world domination. That sort of character was great for the Golden and Silver ages of comics, but in the post Moore-Miller era, fans call for characters of depth, be they hero, villain or anti-hero. The large amount of exposition in the beginning of the story doesn’t help either, as the reason for the Arctic Circle trip could’ve been illustrated in a few pages instead of explained out right. Tech Watch however does end off on a bit of a cliff hanger and though it’s only mentioned a few times the H.A.R.D.W.A.R.E project seems intriguing enough to stay with the story.


Pictures

Tech Watch has to be one of the most professionally illustrated independent comics I have ever read. Ernesto Vicente does a great job of capturing the scale of this story from the tech to the facial expressions. The head’s up displays look like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel and makes me wish that this kind of tech existed now. While Mike Borromeo makes the sleek, chrome sheen of the future shine, with dark tones and glossy finishes. This is the level of art, by which all indie creators, black or otherwise should judge their work.

 

The Real

I love reading comics by black creators, however they usually feel rushed and unfinished. Tech Watch doesn’t feel rushed per say, but there is a sense that more time could’ve been put into the character development. I am not saying that this is a bad comic, it has potential and would probably read very well as a trade paper back, but as of the first issue there are very few things keeping me invested in the story. If you’d like to pick up a copy of Tech Watch, go to chameleoncreationsllc.com, Amazon.com, Comixology or your local comic book shop.
Rating: 3/5

Watson and Holmes #1 Print Edition Review Or Uptown Saturday Night


Previously…

Last year upstart publisher New Paradigm Studioslaunched their digital comic book series Watson and Holmes. It was a modern re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic characters with a new twist: the lead roles were African-American. The   series was enjoyable and after hearing they were releasing a print version of the first issue (including a few extras) I had no choice but to take a look.  

 

Situation

We open up with medical intern, Jon Watson at the hospital, attempting to save the life of a newborn found in a dumpster. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse and the child dies, just as young man is wheeled into the ER on a stretcher. Watson learns that besides being severely beaten, the victim has overdosed on drugs. This is where we’re introduced to the second part of our duo as Holmes enters, and informs Watson that the patient had overdosed on truth serum. Their fateful meeting leads to a mystery involving a gang member’s kidnapped sister, an exclusive nightclub that’s never in the same place twice and a group of mercenaries who may hail from Watson’s stint in the Afghan war. After finding out Holmes is not affiliated with law enforcement of any kind, Watson is left to wonder what his newfound partner’s motivations are.


Story

Writer Karl Bollers does a good job of us making us feel for our narrator (Jon Watson) right off the bat. His narration captures the essence of a compassionate man dedicated to helping people. Holmes’ hunger for mystery is a fixture of the character; it’s what he does, if not who he is. Holmes, especially in this incarnation, is almost an enigmatic force of nature, embodying the conundrums he attempts to solve. Watson, on the other hand, is a normal man who fought in the Afghan war, has a normal job as well as a family, and is swept up in the story’s mystery like a leaf in the wind. Bollers has not only constructed a good story but also asked one of the most important internal questions and that is “What drives a man?”


Pictures

Rick Leonardi does a great job of visually telling this story, and though I’ve read the comic in digital format, the print version is even more beautifully done. The pacing of the art on the page adds emotional weight to scenes (i.e. when Watson and co. fail to save the newborn) and a high-octane, adrenaline-fueled rush during chase scenes. Paul Mendoza’s color looks like a work from the Harlem Renaissance, using earthy colors that give an urban feel without looking grimy. GURUEFX’s digital re-master adds touches to the art that help the story come to life.


The Real

I never thought I’d say this, but the print version of Watson and Holmes is actually cooler than the digital version. There is something refreshing about the tone of this series and it’s not just that the main characters are African-American, but the way they’re portrayed as well. When contemporary comics feature underrepresented groups, they end up falling into categories that become caricatures; this story avoids that and makes them people, who happen to be African-American. That said, there are no questions of authenticity here either, as the characters keep certain cultural nuances that remind us where we are in the story and where the characters come from.  Watson and Holmes # 1 is now available at your local comic shop.
Rating 5/5

The day the sun goes black.

Tomorrow I come off of my hiatus. Self imposed exile is a good way to see if you truly love what you do, it is also a good indicator of whether or not you are what you do.

I return on a black, horse carrying a black banner with a golden sun at its center. The heavens will know me as they know my brethren and we shall once again stand and shake their pillars.

Not dead, just dreaming

So, I’m not closing up shop. I am a writer and it I wasn’t I’d go insane. I’m trying to do some restructuring, I need to get my comic projects together and test some old ones. I’m cutting back on mainstream reviews, I’ll leave those to Newsarama and CBR (Comic Book Resources). There are a lot of indie creators, who I know that need exposure and I want to help them get it. So when I come back you’ll know what to expect.