Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Allure #1

Allure

Scarlett Johansson is one of those actors whose very presence onscreen is both polarizing and enigmatic. Her movies early on were of the girl next door as was seen in The Man Who Wasn’t There and An American Rhapsody. Of course, as she grew older and appeared in more movies, her roles became more centered and eventually, the camera could not elude her gaze. Her real star turn for most came in the severely underrated Ghost World which showed teenage angst in its most realistic reflection.

Of course these days, she is more known for another classic iconic character, Black Widow, who was last seen in the Avenger films but will be in her own film. Movie fans will appreciate her more complicated roles like what she played in Jojo Rabbit. Then there are the somewhat convoluted but fun stories like Lucy, where she plays a drug mule, who turns on her bosses due to the illegal narcotic she smuggles. In the debut chapter of Noir Ceasar’s action-packed series, Allure- The Evening Primrose, we find another stoic protagonist whose circumstances are beyond her control until now.

We meet Akane Koizumi, a Yakuza assassin in Tokyo, who ponders about her future and gets a bit sentimental, wondering how she got to this point. As we find out that she is more than your typical assassin, learning a skill known as Allure, which makes her a Death bringer, an assassin whose eyes change to unleashed their heightened abilities which only a few have, and can get anyone out of any situation. Which the reader sees first hand on the job she is on in this issue, quickly taking out a pair of twin sister guards. By the issue’s end, her normal temperament reassumes her consciousness, as she looks to kill one of the guards, as her conscience barely holds her back up as weighs on the decision.

Overall, an engaging story that feels like it was birthed in the world of Kill Bill but with a much more intriguing protagonist. The story by Nathan Peters is fun and bloody. The art by Reb Pierre is awe-inspiring. Altogether, a tale which palpitates with a world the reader will want more of.

Story: Nathan “ Sinitus Tempo” Peters Art: Reb Pierre
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Lola: A Ghost Story

Lola: A Ghost Story

Lola: A Ghost Story gets a new edition from Oni Press. Written by J. Torres with art by Elbert Or this new edition celebrates 10 years of the acclaimed graphic novel. Lola: A Ghost Story explores family, grief and Filipino folklore in an all-new edition that includes a revised ending and updated illustrations.

We meet Jesse, a young boy who can see everything supernatural including ghosts. He and his family fly to the Philippines as his Lola (grandmother) has passed and the family is there for her funeral. As he gets reacquainted with his family there, he soon finds out his Lola had the same gift as him. The more time he spends there, the more supernatural creatures present themselves to him. It’s a secret he can’t keep from his family as his cousins start to notice his strange reactions to them. His family’s grieving also becomes overwhelming, as everyone is affected by the loss of his Lola. Each family deals with it in their own way.

Overall, a beautiful and affecting story that illuminates, scares and is full of emotion. The story by Torres is heartfelt, affected, and at times, funny. The art by Or is stunning. Altogether, a story that will make you miss the ones that left you and love the ones who are still here.

Story: J. Torres Art: Elbert Or
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Made in America: The FBI Files of Malcolm X #3

Made in America: The FBI Files of Malcolm X #3

Anyone who has seen Roots can identify with the elements of family and sacrifice. Alex Haley’s family’s journey throughout history is both compelling and heartbreaking.  I was old enough to remember watching the second time the original series aired nationwide, and as difficult as it was to watch the horrors of slavery, the story needed to be told. The story was further expanded, in Roots: The Next Generations, as we found out more about the author himself.

We found about his hardship of growing up without a mother to a father whose job was paramount to his family.  We also found about the struggles he endured in the military and his eventual discovery of his calling as a writer.  What I found most compelling in that miniseries is his interview with Malcolm X for Playboy and subsequent agreement to write his autobiography. In the third issue of Malcolm X: Made In America, Wayne Muhammad dives into that endearing partnership, which would lead to a book that would change lives for years.

We find Malcolm back in Manhattan, answering questions after a sermon about his philosophy on the direction black people in America must take, a sharp change from what other leaders of the time had been spouting., a new attitude that gains him followers. We also find FBI Agent, O’Neill, and his informant, Othello, discussing how they can undermine his efforts, a pursuit that has failed so far. We also meet Haley, who has repeatedly tried to interview Malcolm, whose justified paranoia, loosens enough for Alex to peer in. By the issue’s end, Malcolm realizes his story is bigger than he would ever be while alive, as its impact can change black lives around the world.

Overall, an issue in this very story that shows the complexities of a man whose light was more brilliant than he would ever know. The story by Muhammad is formidable and vast. The art by the creative team is astonishing. Altogether, a chapter in this important hero’s journey which shows how human he really was.

Story: Wayne Muhammad
Art: Wayne Muhammad, Wayne Powell, Lee Townsend, Martin Griffiths, Benjamin Wachenji,
and Comicraft
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Felt #1

Felt #1

Hip Hop artists tend to live a varied life. It’s a life that so many dream of. When you think of music artists, you tend to think of wild nights and debauchery. Although there is much of that, there are also unique life experiences they draw from. Many of the artists in the genre are people of color and they bring a powerful perspective to the genre.

It’s no surprise to any fan of the genre why it holds so many ears captive. It’s the perfect blend of music and the provoking of thought. The MC is the extension of the Griot in Africa, reminding the listener of the stories that pervade their surroundings. Every MC has a story to tell. In the one-shot, Felt, Jim Mahfood breathes life into the stories of rappers Murs and Slug.

In “ Ya Mans and Them”, we get a story of someone’s little sister being someone she is not. In “Morris Day”, our protagonists have an unusual encounter with the infamous musician. In “Early Morning Tony”, tells of a crazy night that leads to an even crazier morning. IN “ Fear and Loathing in Life Vegas”, Slug takes a drug that takes him on a wild episode. In the final story” The Biggest Lie”, Murs goes to see a psychiatrist, where he questions his direction in life.

Overall, an engaging and funny set of stories that shows that musicians are just like the rest of us. The stories by Mahfood, Murs, and Slug are hilarious. The art by Mahfood is remarkable. Altogether, a set of stories that you can get lost in over and over again.

Story: Jim Mahfood, Murs and Slug Art: Jim Mahfood
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Back to the Grind

Back to the Grind

Television has found situational comedy in some of the strangest of places. Take, for instance, the 1970s classic Taxi, which revolved around a bunch of Taxi drivers, which should be boring but is still one of the funniest shows ever. Then there is the modern take on the nerd genre, The Big Bang Theory, which became a pop culture phenomenon. Life itself can be made fun of, as in the classic show about nothing, Seinfeld.

Then there is the classic workplace comedy, The Office which enjoyed a British run and more known American run, which has given inspiration to a slew of sitcoms. The only thing about both iterations is that the characters of color often played the background. As it would have been entertaining to see life through Oscar’s eyes or even Stanley’s, on a greater frequency. In Jamie Noguchi’s brilliant Back To The Grind : A Yellow Peril Collection, we get a  workplace comedy where race and class intersect on a daily basis.

In” Dress For Success”, Kane gets ridiculed by his best friend, Bodie, because of his normal work attire. In “Powers Of Hotness”, a new attractive coworker tempers any digressions Kane may have had for his workplace. In “The Secret OF MSG”,Kane and Bodie go to a local Chinese restaurant where the owner, Julie plays on Bodie’s fears of MSG hoax. In “The Boss Code”, Kane has a meeting with a company executive where they go over the politics of billable hours. In “its Good To be The Boss”, Bodie finally finds the guts to ask out Julie and she gets to be her real self. In “Shining Armor”, Kane and Bodie solve a problem with a project just by working together. In “Locked Knees”, Bodie has his first date Julie, where a cook for her, giving al types of nervous fits. In “One The List”, Kane’s cousin, Lance comes to visit and helps him try to win his work crush in the process. In “Not So Many Words”, Julie reveals all the subtle hints she had been dropping for Bodie all those months to let him know she likes him. In “ Kung Fu Masterpiece Theater Interrupted”, Kane reminisces of watching badly dubbed kung fu movies with his Dad.

Overall, an engaging book that gives a set of characters everyone can relate to. The stories by Jamie Noguchi is funny and relevant. The art by Noguchi is remarkable. Altogether, an excellent take on the workplace comedy genre.

Story: Jamie Noguchi Art: Jamie Noguchi
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Immortal Nadia Greene #2-1

The Immortal Nadia Greene #2

Knowing that you are living on borrowed time is a prescient situation for most of us. Throughout my life, there have been some close calls. Growing up in New York City, depending on where you live, your life may have an expiration date. Definitely, when I was in the military, I have been on some missions where I felt that power of attorney I signed was for a good reason.

In recent news, the death of Kobe Bryant has caused many people in my age group to question our own mortality. His death has shown all of us just how swift and arbitrary death is. Truly no one is promised one more second than is allotted each of us. In the 2.1 issue of The Immortal Nadia Greene, we find Nadia at the age of 22 still proving to be elusive to the Reapers

We find Hermes trying to talk down the other reapers including Odin, as he sees disaster looming by challenging Nadia. We also find Nadia and her friends sharing a lunch, actually enjoying life as young adults but in Purgatory, until they are interrupted by Reapers. As a fight between one of the mightiest reaper, Anubis and Nadia break out, one which Anubis uses to test Nadia’s skills. By chapter’s end, Morrigan intervenes and asks for Nadia’s help, for a bigger crisis.

Overall, an exciting second issue that continues our adventures with these wonderful characters. The story by Jamal Campbell is elating and well developed. The art by Campbell is stunning. Altogether, an installment which builds on the stellar debut issue.

Story: Jamal Campbell Art: Jamal Campbell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Rise #2

Rise #2

Black Panther, even before the movie, was a sort of icon for kids of color. The very concept of a Prince who has superhuman abilities, is extremely smart, and an Avenger, made him quite formidable. I remember reading the early issues and not quite connecting. It was mostly because it was originally not written from a black perspective.

The point which drew me back in was when Reginald Hudlin took over the series. His remixing of the narrative starting with Flags Of Our Fathers, made him someone whom Captain America did not have the upper hand on. One of the most memorable panels from Hudlin’s run is the battle to become the Black Panther. In the second issue of Rise, Zakaiah is in the midst of an ambush, which also serves as one of the tests the young Princess must pass.

We meet Frix, a master inventor, who has come under the employ of Balthazar, to tip the scales in their favor, as the road is seen to be treacherous. As we are dropped right back in the middle of the ambush, where Zakaiah is separated from the royal entourage and a battle between Junayd, the lead Soul Thief and General Adofo takes place. As Junayd gets the better of Adofo, Balthazar casts a spell to gain an advantage over the Soulthieves. By issue’s end, our heroes beat the Soulthieves momentarily while losing one of their own in the process.

This issue is a heart-wrenching issue which shows that nothing is gained without sacrifice. The story by Don Ellis Aguillo is intense and well characterized. The art by Aguillo is magnificent. Altogether, an issue that only antes up on the action and gives readers a nice backstory

Story: Don Ellis Aguillo Art: Don Ellis Aguillo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Assassin’s Creed Vol. 1 Bloodstone

Assassin's Creed Vol. 1 Bloodstone

There is something so resonant about Oliver Stone’s movies. He usually has something to say with each of them. Many of his contemporaries choose to explore subjects closer to home, or even fantastical, he chooses to look hard into uncomfortable spaces. Much of what he looks at is both unnerving and introspective. His contemporaries like De Palma and Coppola look for escapism or what they see as real people. He speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves.

His movies peer into subject matters that speak for the scarred veteran whose wounds are both external and internal as in Born On The 4Th Of July.  Then there is the actual war effort, where many young men, still trying to figure out their way in the world, often are confronted with life and death choices as was seen in Full Metal Jacket. There was always a truth to be found in all of his movies, something many young filmmakers strive to look for. In a tale told in the same setting as many of Stone’s movies are, we find a young assassin looking for truth in the place of his fallen brethren in the Vietnam War in the story, Assassin’s Creed: Bloodstone.

We meet Tomo, a young man in 2000, where his father is the leader of the guild in Kyushu , Japan, and the Templars has just suffered a betrayal by one of its own, making every Templar leader both cautious and fortified to face what threats may come. They are attacked by the scorned Templar, taking out dozens of their people, forcing Tomo and his father to flee for safety. Fast forward to 2017, and Tomo is undercover with the Yakuza trying to trace the scorned templar, Maxime Gorm, who seems to be hiding in Switzerland. Tomo heads to Switzerland, where he finds Elisa Adler, Gorman’s daughter and maybe the answer to why they killed Tomo’s mother.  Soon the trail that Tomo is following leads him to some secret CIA operations during the Vietnam War, where they were working a mind-control machine based on ancient artifacts.  He soon finds out through a memory machine that the Templars use, that not everything as was written is what it seems, and as he continues to use it, he delves into the minds and memories of Templars past, especially those who were on the Bloodstone mission. As we find out that the mission became bigger than the people they worked for, eventually killing a President as part of the mission. By story’s end, Tomo gets close to Gorm, but leaves him for dead and looks to use the same memory revival technology to bring back more Templars.

Overall, an action-packed thriller that feels like a cross between Homecoming and Homeland. The story Guillaume Dorison is enthralling and well developed. The art by Ennio Bufi is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that shows sins of the past sometimes finds their way to the present.

Story: Guillaume Dorison Art: Ennio Bufi
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Haiti: The First Black Republic

Haiti: The First Black Republic

As Americans, we love to write legends out of our historical figures. Take, for instance, the number of stories connected to George Washington. They go from almost unbelievable to slice of life. It’s no wonder the rest of the world has both celebrated us for our diverse history but ridicule us for our bravado. Another story which many take as history, and not a legend, is the Louisiana Purchase.

History has told us that France sold us what we now know as the Midwest because they did not want anything to do with the New World. The truth is more complicated than one simple answer. Another reason was because of the Haitian Revolution which lead to hundreds of French people dying or fleeing the island. This story is beautifully captured in Haiti: The First Black Republic, where we find out what lead to it and the brave men and women that emerged from it.

We find out about the first inhabitants, the Arawak tribe, Taino, who built villages, fed off the land and even traded amongst each other, and did so peacefully for thousands of years. Everything changed in 1492, when Christopher Columbus plundered the land for gold and left a settlement, which decreased the population from 1,000,000 to 25,000. The French would arrive in the 1600s where they share the island with the Spaniards, where they began a prosperous sugar and slave trade. As slavery became popular across the island, so did runaway slaves, who became entrenched with the Maroons, and were lead by a man named Mackandal, who eventually structured an army of Maroons and former slaves, to fight against the slave masters. This would inspire a slave named Dutty Boukman to organize an insurrection, with a detailed plan on how to defeat the French. As the revolt started, France would hear news of this slave revolt, prompting France to send a cavalry, which was met by an ex-slave, Toiussant LOverture, who took up the cause shortly after Boukman was killed. He along with Henri Christophe and Jean Jacques Dessalines, successfully pushed back the French out of Haiti, made them abolish slavery and free all the slaves of St.Domingue, the capital of French Haiti. L’Overture would set up a new independent government, which included schools and courts of justice. This would not last when Bonaparte came into power, Toussaint L’Ouverture was tricked by French General LeClerc, captured and sent to France where he was jailed until his death. Dessalines in LOverture’s absence would defeat LeClerc, and rid the island of French presence once and for all in the Battle of Vertieres. On January 1, 1804, Dessalines would sign the Haitian Declaration of Independence, making it the first independent nation in the Caribbean, and would give the country its name, “Haiti”, in honor of the country’s first inhabitants, the Tainos.

Overall, a brisk but informative history, of why the island’s history is so important to so many of its people, and its Diaspora. The history as told by Frantz Derenoncourt Jr. is amazing. The art by the Eminence System is stunning. Altogether, a history everyone should know, even if it is not thought in schools.

Story: Frantz Derenoncourt Jr. Art: Eminence System
Story: 10 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: In the Flood

In the Flood

In a world where relationships are fragile, how does one stay in one? There are those relationships that push you to the edge and question what you are. Being with someone can make you find out who you really are. It’s also the most honest you will be with anyone you encounter.

The show The Affair showed just how messy and endearing relationships are and can be. We’re shaped by our experiences and the show more than expounded on that. We all can be the worst person and the best person at any moment in our lives. In Ray FawkesIn The Flood, we find one such couple whose love is tested by forces beyond their control.

We find a couple caught in a storm that has erupted into a flood, as we meet Mike and Clara, a couple separated by this disaster. Clara recalls her life before meeting Mike, as a night club singer, and dealing with the inner workings of the underworld.  Meanwhile, Mike, searches for Clara by boat, hoping he can find her, but not before running into trouble, by two robbers looking to get an easy score.  Soon both Mike and Clara, slowly unravel, as the past and present become mixed with each other, confusing the couple in utter dissolution. By the book’s end, the couple realizes that everything has happened is but an illusion and only one of them survives the night.

Overall, an intoxicating story that more than draws you in. It bewilders you at every turn. The story by Fawkes is enchanting and engrossing. The art by Fawkes, Lee Loughridge and Thomas Mauer pushes the medium in ways only true fans of the medium will be able to pick up on. Altogether, a story that stays with you and makes you question everything, as good art should always do.

Story: Ray Fawkes
Art: Ray Fawkes, Lee Loughridge, and Thomas Mauer
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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