Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Contact High

Contact High

The search for a meaningful connection is one that most people look for a whole lifetime. The people you meet throughout your daily lives may or may not make a difference to you. We often share this connection with our family members, and even friends, as that symbiosis is hard to come by. This connection is harder to find, when as the late great Aaliyah asked in her song “Are You That Somebody?”

As anyone who has ever been attracted to someone, the line between love and infatuation is blurry. No one can give you a definitive answer. There’s no time nor reason to who you are attracted to. Speaking from personal experience it’s never when you want it and it’s never who you saw yourself falling for. In Josh Eckert and James F. Wright’s spectacular Contact High, this search is explored through the prism of dystopian speculative fiction.

We are taken to a future where humans are not allowed to be touched by another human and touching of skin in the future is illegal and everyone has to wear Lifesuits. We meet Ziggurat, a man who suffered from a new disease called Skinsanity, a disease where the touch of skin, makes one insane. We also meet Summit, a patient at the same facility Ziggurat is, as he confesses of how a yearning to live outside of the suit is what he dreams of. Everything changes when Ziggurat, during a standard contamination scan, knocks out the two orderlies and fights his way to Level III, where he finds out that there’s more to the hospital than they are letting on.

Overall, a great story which shows how important the human connection is. The story by James F. Wright is smart and compelling. The art by Josh Eckert is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that packs the action into a fable which shows that to find out the truth, sometimes you have to risk it all.

Story: James F. Wright Art: Josh Eckhart
Story: 9.7 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Cage #2

Cage #2

Bruce Willis is one of those actors whose presence onscreen is one of reassurance. He’s now known mostly for his tough-guy roles but that not has always been the case. As was shown in The Movies That Made Us, when he made Die Hard, most test screen audiences laughed at his very presence, because they remember him as the guy from the television show, Moonlighting. He would go on to make movies that straddled the line between tough-guy and comic relief, but most of his fans love his action movies.

Even Sylvester Stallone saw his bankability to put Willis in one of his Expendables movies before their offscreen tiff. One of my favorite movies by him was a period drama called Last Man Standing where he played a rogue gunman in the middle of a turf war. His character, no matter what he did, got pulled in deeper before he had no choice but to pick sides. In the second issue of Cage, our protagonist finds a bird in a hand, and looks to live up to the title of Hero for Hire.

We find Luke in a conversation with a dirty cop that knows about the case he just took and the implications that would occur if he gets close to the truth, giving him fair warning before trouble is headed his way. A warning that Luke doesn’t take heed, but looks to make money from. Soon Luke plots The Italian Mob, against the gang that controls Harlem, to the dirty cops that run the neighborhood, with none the wiser. By the issue’s end, a miscalculation by Luke leads to a vital witness being fatally shot which changes his plans completely.

Overall, an engaging issue that plays out like some of the best crime noir thrillers of yesteryear. The story by Brian Azzarello is electrifying. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, an issue in this story that ramps up the action.

Story: Brian Azzarello
Art: Richard Corben, Wes Abbott, and  Jose Villarubia
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Tephlon Funk #1

Tephlon Funk #1

Netflix has become one of those big business machines which produce dozens of television shows and movies at a breakneck pace. It has brought the rise of similar streaming services which have years to go before it can catch up to what Neflix has accomplished. It gave creators freedom in ways that other networks are only beginning to understand and emulate. One of the shows that broke ground and evoked nostalgia for many was Baz Luhrman’s The Get Down.

The show revolved around bunch of teens that through music and the trappings of their neighborhood rose above what was expected of them and realized their dreams. The show gave those of us who grew up in that era a romanticized vision of the birth of Hip Hop. Despite its short tenure, it brought light to the fact that even today stories like these were few and far between. In the epic debut issue of Tephlon Funk, we meet a cast of characters whose grit, much like the characters in The Get Down, give readers heroes to root for.

We’re taken to Queensbridge, New York, where we meet Inez Jozlyn, a downtrodden 14-year-old whose neighborhood has gotten the best of her and her direction in life. We also meet the neighborhood crime lord, Kefflow, who Inez would like to work for since she saw all the money her friend Nassim was making. Everything changes when she meets Gabriel Ainsley, who stops Inez before she makes the same mistake as Nassim. His reasons are more personal than honorable. By issue’s end, we meet Cameron Phoenix, an ambitious young cop whose motivation for stopping Kefflow is personal for other reasons, one which she hopes to infiltrate with an undercover police operation

Overall, an interesting premise that more than delivers on several fronts. The story by Stephane Metayer is electrifying and storied. The art by David Tako and Nicholas Safe is gorgeous and iridescent. Altogether, it’s a new world the reader will be more than happy to get to know.

Story: Stephane Metayer Art: David Tako and Nicholas Safe
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Green Lantern Mosaic #15

Green Lantern Mosaic #15

In our world, the taking of human life is incomparable. To commit the act is a crime for a reason. It’s borne of ill will most of the time. Sometimes it’s accidental, and at times involuntarily. Then there are times when the person absolutely has no choice because of circumstance.

When you have no choice it may be as well be a matter of life or death. It’s either you or the other person. Being in the military, I’ve seen this scenario play out too many times where you may have a moment of being utterly frozen or your training kicks in. It’s rare when we have to reckon with these split-second decisions. When we do, it is usually hell to pay. In Green Lantern Mosaic #15, Jon has this very dilemma in front of him, with the guidance of Ch’p.

We find Jon trying to get his bearings, when old Timer shows up, to carry him to his own personal hell known as Xanshi. He literally confronts those he has killed throughout his life. Each person is more difficult to deal with, and he has to even confront his Grandpa Roy. These confrontations cause him to self reflect, making him question why he has sustained the Mosaic world as log ash e has. By issue’s end, his most devastating reckoning just so happens to be his wife, Katma, leaving him, unfettered.

Overall, one of the best issues of the series, leaving fans to see how human Jon is as he deals with past foes. The story by Gerard Jones is commanding and vast. The art by the creative team is remarkable. Altogether, an issue which reinforces why the fanfare fro this book remains almost thirty years later

Story: Gerard Jones
Art: Albert De Guzman, Luke McDonnell, Steve Mattson,
and Robert Campanella
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Acid of the Godz #1

Acid of the Godz #1

When it comes to converging stories, not too many do it as good as George R.R. Martin. His stories are epic and sprawling, leaving readers both puzzled and amazed. His Game Of Thrones series has shown how the complexities that most politicians face today is nothing new. It also shows how man’s fragilities can be seen as a weakness but are truly strength.

His masterful world-building and development of story arcs give way to some of the most psychologically complicated characters in all of high fantasy. One can look at how remarkable an arc Daenarys has followed, showing how her lifelong trauma eventually. Then there is Sansa, who most fans hated at first but came to see as the most balanced sovereign in all of Westeros. In the first issue of Acid Of The Godz, our heroes follow their paths to their difficult stations.

We find Shaba-Ka and Mahendi conversing on the path forward, as Shaba-Ka starts to doubt himself tremendously while hoping his calvary comes back with hopeful news. We also find Khepra and Kalfoni, in the midst of battle with their new enemy, one that they easily defeated even with Khalfoni temporarily blinded, and who Kephra finds Baba to heal him through the use of medicinal magic. We also find Hodari, who must embark on a journey with Paka, his companion, to ensure the safety of his daughter. As Khalfoni recuperates, he meets Nyack, one the Negus elder tribesman, who reveals the truth about the fury that this new threat has unleashed on each village they have invaded. By issue’s end, one of our heroes finds out what seemed like a nightmare has proven to be much more than.

Overall, a potent first issue that gives readers a complex world. The story by Anubis Heru is elegant, deep and exciting. The art by Heru and Ryan Best is gorgeous. Altogether, an outstanding story.

Story: Anubis Heru Art: Anubis Heru and Ryan Best
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Acid of the Godz #0

Acid of the Godz #0

Legacy is something that runs our lives even when we don’t think it does. We wonder how will we be remembered. Our mark on this world can be indelible if we are loved by the ones closest to us. Our mark on the world can also be reviled if people’s memories of you are one of how bad you made them feel. Either way, your life on this planet is limited, and your miles may stop at any point along the road of life.

This is what made Jason Momoa’s Aquaman such a compelling story. He was a prince whose legacy served as a catalyst and an anchor. His quest with Mera, to find an artifact, showed his selflessness and acceptance of a power greater than him. Sometimes you must get out of your comfort zone to do what’s right. In the debut issue of Acid Of The Godz, we meet a young sovereign who must join forces with three warriors to defeat a powerful threat.

An unknown threat has been prowling the border of the Kingdom Of Avaris, nestled in the land known as Alkebulan, leaving those who come into contact, dead on-site, which catches the attention of the next in line to the current sovereign, King Shaba-Ka, Prince Manetho, including the village of the Negus Tribe, whose land is under attack from these foul demons. We find Manetho enjoying the peace Avaris has given his kingdom, enjoying the fruits of his loin, but this threat on the country’s borders gives him pause. Shab’-Ka’s concern for his son is even more alarming, as he knows one day Manetho will be King, and he must be prepared to rule Avaris wisely. We also meet Khepra, who is from the Negus tribe and whose members are dwindling, which is why she has left their land seeking reinforcements, as she finds a recruit in Khalfoni, the last of Segu Warriors, a people who are known for their fighting skills. We also meet another noble, Hodari, whose daughter has an almost fatal flaw, that she shares with him, a malady which the tribal witchdoctor knows how to cure. We also meet Chuma, a mighty warrior whose speed and strength are superhuman and whose heart is divine. By the issue’s end, Khalfoni and Khepra meet the threat head-on, which leaves one of them, at a clear disadvantage.

Overall, a powerful debut issue that gives readers a new world and set of protagonists which shows how we see heroes should be more than monochromatic. The story by Anubis Heru is smart, intense and action-packed. The art by Heru and Ryan Best is awe-inspiring. Altogether, an excellent story that provides of multitudes to how we see characters with sepia tones.

Story: Anubis Heru Art: Anubis Heru and Ryan Best
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Green Lantern Mosaic #14

Green Lantern Mosaic #14

There’s not too many movies that induce paranoia like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It tapped into our worst fears of mind control and total immersion into society. Marvel took the idea and unleashed it into their comic universe through the Skrull Invasion. This, of course, was pushed into their Cinematic Universe in Captain Marvel and Spiderman: Homecoming, showing a world where you need to question if someone really is who they say they are.

The movie’s story infused the idea that our worst fears can be realized at any moment and we would be powerless towards it. The movie has had several remakes and remixes, and every time the story at the center of it is still so relevant. As interesting as the Skrulls are at Marvel, I always wondered how it would be if an actual superhero were mind-controlled. In Green Lantern Mosaic #14, this scary idea plays out.

We find John enjoying the world he built on Mosaic but still feels incomplete. It’s a situation he doesn’t know how to overcome. Before he can settle into his sublime, the UberMenschen, controlled by the Peeper attack the Mosaic and take control of his body through the use of Pods. These very pods start to take control of different inhabitants slowly becoming the dominant force within the Mosaic World.

Overall, a crazy trip of an issue in this series, one which will make the reader re-read to see what a rabbit hole writer Gerard Jones leads us into. The story by Jones is powerful and immense. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that will have fans of this book even more enamored.

Story: Gerard Jones
Art: Albert De Guzman, Luke McDonnell, Steve Mattson,
and Robert Campanella
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Aztec Empire #5

Aztec Empire

Game Of Thrones is one of those shows and stories where the ebbs and flow of the momentum make for an interesting arc. Take, for instance, the arc of Sansa Stark. Once a meek character, but by show’s end, a fierce ruler whose loyalty to her people, made her formidable. There was one point where she was more hated than loved for her perceived weakness.

What made the story so magnetic is its unmistakable likeness to the flight of the human spirit. As everyone rooted for the Starks, when we saw how despite the misfortune that befell their house, they still rose. Who cannot champion those who are clear-minded and full-hearted? In the fifth issue of Aztec Empire, we find the Maya, at a crossroads, as some of them have surrendered while other factions look to fight.

We are taken to the Palace of Montecuhzoma, where the Council of Four is strategizing how to stop these usurpers and drive them from their land. The Great Speaker, Montecuhzoma II, ruminate with the advice of his generals, their next move, and treat these new strangers as a threat, one that he sees he must be more decisive, he must be accurate. We’re then taken to Potonchon, where the Spanish invaders start to impose the Christian religion and their ravaging of food supplies, one that pushes the natives to the brink. By issue’s end, Cortes looks to plunder Montecuhzoma’s land for gold, not knowing what unknown dangers lay ahead.

Overall, an engaging penultimate episode, one which will have reader rooting to defeat the invaders. The story by Paul Guinan is stirring and emotional. The art by Guinan and David Hahn is beautiful. Altogether, a story that leaves the reader beginning to comprehend the complexities and atrocities of colonization in all its repulsiveness.

Story: Paul Guinan Art: Paul Guinan and David Hahn
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Delta Dogs #1

Delta Dogs #1

As a child of the 1980s I loved watching cartoons. One of the shows that gave viewers everywhere an interesting take on just how a super-powered family would work together was Bionic Six. Though the show was long after the Fantastic Four had been created, in subtle ways it would provide the groundwork for movies like The Incredibles.

What made the show unique, was that it was based on the popular properties of The Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman, who in this story are married and raising adopted children with bionic abilities as well, but of different ethnicities. The show provides d a predecessor kaleidoscope through which children of color could see themselves other than the best friend or even worse, the villain.  In the debut issue of Delta Dogs, we meet another family with extraordinary abilities, as they navigate evil and teenage angst.

We’re taken to a bank where it is being held up by a gang of robbers whose escape is thwarted by a masked hero, one who is working with a set of super-powered beings, who just so happens to be his cousins. Meet Kenny, Curtis, Lil B, Josh, Mike and Quan, a group of cousins who are more like brothers than relatives. They all live a relatively normal life, until one night their car swerves off the road. By issue’s end, before they could get their bearings, they’re altered in ways they are yet to realize.

Overall, an engaging origin story that gives readers a new set of heroes they can relate to. The story by Vonnell Young provides a great background to establish them as family first and leaving their attributes to shine through their powers. The art by Felix Morales and Marvin Marvida is luminous and elegant. Altogether, a story that will reaffirm that family is everything.

Story: Vonnell Young Art: Felix Morales and Marvin Marvida
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Aztec Empire #4

Aztec Empire

When one looks through history, clearly the way stories are told is through the eyes of the victor. The only time where you have completely different views of who won the battle is War Of 1812. This view of history is often skewed by the glamor of victory and less with the blood-filled trails they leave behind.  Most of the stories do not include the bloodshed innocent people suffered at the hands of these “noble” men as they are considered to be carrying out “God’s work” against the indigenous peoples who are often referred to as savages.

There’s no better example than the ferocity of Hannibal and the fall of Carthage. His existence serves as one of the most brutal victories that the Roman Empire endured and because of it, Roe wanted to make an example. As the Empire eventually took Carthage and made slaves of the kingdom’s population, serving as a shameful chapter in their history that is shunned because of the far-reaching implications. In the fourth issue of Aztec Empire, we find the people who were protected by the Triple Alliance getting adjusted to colonization.

We are taken to Potonchan, as the negotiation for peace between the Maya and the Spaniards commences. Cortes looks to get the upper hand. With the arrival of King Tabscoob a lack of understanding of each other’s customers leads to hostile talks. Avarice turns to lust and rape as we see the cost of colonialism.

Overall, an engaging installment that gives readers, a rare look that the ugliness of colonization The story by Paul Guinan is enthralling. The art by David Hahn is superb. Altogether, a story that doesn’t hold back on exactly what happened, giving readers a truth, even when its uncomfortable.

Story: Paul Guinan Art: David Hahn
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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