Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Unreal City

There is something about watching and/or reading anthologies which tell a common theme. This is why Love Actually is still one of the most talked about movies almost 20 years after it came out. There was someone everyone can identify with in each character. The one character in the movie which I most identified with, and this was due to my general shyness, is Mark, Andrew Lincoln’s character.

Now, I know most people know Lincoln, from his character in the Walking Dead, but the way he depicted how painful being shy is, cut right through me. Most of these movies, that depicted a general them usually are considered universal, that is also why Garry Marshall’s movies feels so honest. As they usually showed a city is filled with people just like you even when you think you are all alone. So, when I heard D.J. Bryant’s Unreal City, I knew I was in for a treat.

In “Echoes to Eternity”, a woman in an unhappy marriage, feels as if she is being dragged down by the world, that is until she finds a place that feels all too familiar, but she has no recollection of.In”Evelyn Dayton-Holt”, a woman continusously tortures her husband, until she realizes the monster she has become. In” Emordana”, a theater goer becomes engrossed in a play to where becomes part of it in the weirdest way.” In the “Yellowknife Perspective”, a man gets trapped in a museum where a time loop exists, which leads him to question whether his girlfriend is a figment of his imagination. In “Objet D’Art”, a man’s infatuation becomes his undoing until he meets the love of his life.

Overall, a creepy, gripping and entertaining set of stories, that will either divide or unite readers, as these stories are not for kids. The stories by D.J. Bryant is uneasy, riddled with black humor and ones the reader will soon not forget. The art by D.J. Bryant reminds me of Daniel Clowes work, but with a panache all his own. Altogether, a book and an artist to watch out for.

Story: D.J. Bryant Art: D.J. Bryant
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.4R ecommendation: Buy

Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker

I remember viewing movies with my grandparents in our family home in New York. We did not only watch what was considered family friendly movies, like the King and I, but just about every movie that came on HBO. One of those movies, was Victor/Victoria, with Julie Andrews, James Garner, and the guy who played Webster’s dad, Alex Karras. This was the first time as a kid, I saw someone who I closely associated with a certain character, Julie Andrews in Sound Of Music, play a character nowhere near who they were in that particular film. That was not the part of the movie, that changed my view, is how a woman could dress as a man, which is something I asked my parent about soon after the movie was over.

They tried to explain in their most PC way, which further confused me. It was not until I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show, that I even begin to understand what transvestitism is, and I only recently found out how different it is from being transgender, thanks to Transparent. As the world forges to become more accepting of all sexualities and gender identities, it still feels as though the world is stuck in a time warp, and that is why the world needs more stories, not only to educate but for them to empathize. Jen Wang’s The Prince and The Dressmaker is one of those stories that does both and does quite enchantingly.

We are in Enlightenment era Paris, and the prince of Belgium Prince Sebastian, is holding court to find a wife or more accurately his parents are looking to marry him off, to secure more power. We also meet Frances, a low-level seamstress, who makes a beautiful dress one night, which changes her life forever as she is secretly hired to be a personal seamstress. This is where our two protagonists meet, and a rare friendship is sparked, one where trust knows no bounds and the one secret they share liberates them both. By book’s end, this newly found freedom, leads to their happiness, one which shows the and the world, it’s okay to be who you are.

Overall, a magical book that shows how the world handles perceptions, and how acceptance starts with person struggling to find it. The story by Wang is touching, funny, deep, and charmed. The art by Wang is breathtaking and alluring. Altogether, a story that will make you root for both of the protagonists, and understand that the love of one’s self is  one of the keys to life.

Story: Jen Wang Art: Jen Wang
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Djinn Volume 1 The Favorite

If you were a child growing up in the 1980s, many people will remember, what was called “Event TV”. These days, event TV, may only follow a few nights, and ones that most people don’t remember, as they follow a weekly format. Growing up, I remembered how important these TV miniseries were, as we did not have DVR growing up, but just about everyone had a VCR, which you could pre-program. Ask anybody growing up then, and they could remember watching miniseries like Shogun.

There was nothing like watching the same thing together in the same room, which seems old fashioned these days. One of those TV miniseries, was Harem, which starred Nancy Travis, as a young English kidnapped into a harem. Rarely, has the world been explored, in fiction, and only recently, it has come out that this is a rather common practice amongst Sheiks in the Arabian Gulf. In Jean Dufaux and Ana Miralles’ brilliant and nostalgia stoking Djinn, the reader gets a supernatural and historical adventure.

We meet Kim, a young lady tracing her family’s history in Istanbul, specifically any record of her grandmother, this is where she meets a mysterious stranger. She reluctantly meets him later that night, which leads them to a brothel, where she soon learns that the key to finding out who her grandmother is, is finding more information about the Black Sultan. We also meet her grandmother, Jade, who was a member of the Black Sultan’s harem, who used her sensuality to wield power. By book’s end Kim, may be in some trouble and Jade, looks to have betrayed the very man who Sultan was reaching a treaty with.

Overall, an entertaining and action-packed story that will keep the reader engaged from beginning to end. The story by Dufaux has intrigue, scandal, geopolitical implications, and a mystery lying in the middle. The art by Miralles is gorgeous and invigorating. Altogether, both a journey back in time and a search for the truth, that will keep the reader second guessing to the last page.

Story: Jean Dufaux Art: Ana Miralles
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Vol. 5 Thunder Over the Cordillera

I remember growing up, I loved history, so basically consumed everything history related. Especially American History, as every day, historians are finding out new facts every day, as I pretty consumed with everything American Revolution related and Civil War related. Eventually I would branch out to other countries histories, and to what I have come to call, self-knowledge. Knowing where your family is from and your family’s roots to those places, became part of identity, much like every child.

Where my mother is from, the Philippines, there has always been a history of civil unrest, as every Filipino, even those of us born in the States, carry what the Bible calls “a brand plucked from fire”. As every Filipino family I know claims some lineage to Lapu Lapu, the man who killed Magellan. This firebrand can be seen all over the world, from those oppressed, as this is the very reasons there are coups and civil wars. This is what happens in the latest volume of Buck Danny, where our heroes are caught in a difficult situation.

We find our heroes racing to find help while Nicaraguan military is on the hunt for them shortly after their escape. Meanwhile, Colonel Diaz preps whomever still is loyal to him, for a civil war, one that will change the country forever. Eventually, Lady X, gets involved, and unleashes her mercenaries to quell any strife. By book’s end, the drug ring becomes pull to pieces and Buck saves Cindy.

Overall, the most exciting installment  of the series, as we see firsthand how Buck and his squadron embody the best in all of us. The story by Francis Bergese proves he knows how to tell high flying action. The art by Bergese evokes old school sequential art with new school sensibilities. By book’s end, you will be cheering for Buck Danny and looking for the next volume.

Story: Francis Bergese Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Accelerators #1

Time travel is one of those topics within the genre that usually gets people fascinated. The idea that you can go back in time and change things that may go better in your fortune, is wish fulfillment t its best. The whole Back To The Future franchise is immortalized in the minds of move fans for this exact reason. Who would not want to be Marty McFly and change your father past, which betters your present lifestyle.

Of course, the ills of time travel, have also been stressed in those movies but also in others like Timeline and the Butterfly Effect movies. Rarely, has this genre ever moved into something resembling horror, as the evils that men would with such abilities, have rarely been explored. The closest movie fans have gotten to such concepts, is the Groundhog Day like movie, Happy Death day, where the protagonist relives the day she died multiple gruesome times. In RFI Porto and Gavin P. Smith’s engaging The Accelerators, it puts a terrifying and different twist on the time travel genre.

The book opens up a coliseum, filled with gladiators, but no the typical ones you see in period films, instead we have Barbarians fighting soldiers, Mayan warriors fighting scientists, like a gory Celebrity Death Match, that unfolds. We then meet a scientist named Alexa, who is running from the military and can move forward in time, through a technology resembling the rings in Tron. Eventually, this chase pulls in someone who has no idea what is going on, where we meet the character of Bertram, who serves as the reader, as we find out as he does exactly what is going on. By issue’s end, one of the characters may have met their fate which can also mean a very unstable future.

Overall, a unique and scary version of how time travel can affect lives in the worst ways. The story by RFI Porto is exhilarating and puts a new spin on the genre. The art by Gavin P. Smith is gorgeous. Overall, a great book which put the genre on its head and leads it in a great new direction.

Story: RFI Porto Art: Gavin P. Smith
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation:Buy

Review: The 99: Sacrifice

Within the medium of comics, no one gets death as deftly as sequential art does. Books, can portray a death quite convincingly, describing every detail, as if you were in the room. Movies and tv shows, do it well too, as they show the viewer visually and sometimes not, what occurs. As the death of a beloved character, can make the audience gasp or cheer.

This last season of Game Of Thrones, saw the death of Littlefinger, a villain within the books and the TV show, who seemingly was behind every sea change within Westeros. Then in the recent storyline of Detective Comics, saw the death of Clayface, a once hated but now redeemed character, that divides Bat Family. Either way, much like in life, when one person is so attached to other’s lives, their fatality can be devastating. In this newest volume of The 99, every wielder of the Noor stones face a sacrifice or a demise of someone close.

Dr. Ramzi,  at the beginning of the book, asks every member what personal sacrifice each undertook before they discovered their powers. One of the wielders talks about how each got sold in to child slavery but got turned into a cold-blooded killer and receives the Noor stones this way. Another finds one of the heroes finding his powers through being bullied and almost killing someone. By book’s end, the giving up of something or someone in this book, shows the true measure of a hero.

Overall, this feels like the “After School Special” of the series, which can be good, but this team has told better stories. Stuart Moore and Fabian Nicieza feels seral in this book, which is not exemplary of the series. The art by the different artists is the one consistency from the rest of the series that is in this volume. Altogether, the series has done better than this volume, skip this one and find the rest.

Story: Stuart Moore and Fabian Nicieza
Art: Ron Wagner, Joe Rubinstein, Paco Diaz, Chris Schons, Steven Yeowell, Kevin Kobasic, Don Hudson, Mark Buckingham and Steve Buccelato
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Review: Angels’ Power Volume 1

The world has always been obsessed with angels. There is something enchanted and grounded when one discusses whether they even are, as we love to believe miracles happen every day, so why wouldn’t angels also exist? Even Abraham Lincoln addressed the altruistic values of these beings at his first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”   In my time in the military, I have seen some things which have questioned probability, and have been in some situations home and abroad, where I should have not made it out alive.

I have had some friends who also had some close calls with Death as well, and just about everyone one of them, have spoken, about how they either saw some light or some being at the end of that light. Throughout popular culture, movies like Legion, Gabriel, and Prophecy, have explored what it would be like if Angels were here on Earth. The most recent example that comes to mind, is the ongoing storyline over a few seasons of Supernatural, which has increasingly become complex. So, when I heard of Amelie Hutt’s layered and action-packed Angels’ Power: Authorities That Be, I knew I was in for a treat.

We are introduced to a world where Angels and Dragons must fight an evil known as Diabolicals, who are believed to be behind an affliction killing people, but as all battles have casualties, as a betrayal amongst the Angels, leaves one of their own, Evadrion, becomes a memory impaired. We catch up with her twenty-three years later, as she is recaptured by the Angels and goes on her first mission with Metatron, the father of all Angels, where he suffers injuries, thanks to an attack from the Diabolicals. We are introduced o the Dragons, shapeshifting beings, who can appear as any animal, and are trained to kill, this is where we meet a witch, known as Grainne, and her main goal is to get rid of the Angels, once and for all. By book’s end, Evadrion, finds out who wiped her memory and the reason why, the reader finds out the reason behind Grainne’s thirst for blood and an ally is saved from death.

Overall, an engrossing page turner that will have the reader wanting more, as Hutt delivers story that is beautiful and multifaceted. The story by Amelie Hutt is high fantasy at its best, proving she is one to watch. The art by Hutt reminds me of the work the Sejics do on Sunstone but in an action-adventure setting. Altogether, a story, where love, friendship and betrayal, pushes the limits of belief .

Story: Amelie Hutt Art: Amelie Hutt
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Tale of the Taira Seno

The term “otaku” is one usually reserved for fans of Japanese popular culture, and others have used to describe on a much broader spectrum, fans of Asian popular culture. Though, I was a huge Anime fan, back in the 80s and early 90s, I can’t quite count myself as one, though I still enjoy the occasional movie/tv show. The one thing that I do enjoy, and have for a while, is Japanese Samurai movies. When I was stationed in Japan, I had a hard few months getting adjusted to culture and trying to remedy the general “homesickness” all of us feel when we are that far away from home.

My one escape was seeing these old Samurai movies at this movie theater near the base. I did not have the benefit of subtitles, and the very little Japanese I did know, would inject itself in very pieces of dialogue. Still, I made out what I could, and thankfully the movies gave enough beyond the language barrier, for me to enjoy these movies. So, when I got a chance to read Tale of the Taira Seno, it instantly transported me back to those afternoons watching those movies.

We meet Seno, a warrior wo had been captured during a battle, leaving her at the mercy of the Narizumi, the warrior who captured her. He gives her into service to his sister, Naruji, who uses her for hard labor but eventually forms a friendship, one that gains Seno her freedom. In cover of night, Seno seeks her revenge, killing Naruji and all her men, reigniting the feud between the clans. By story’s end, Seno stands tall, leaving an impression and a legacy Japan will never forget.

Overall, a classic story that underscores the blood feuds that ruled Japan, before a Shogunate came into being. The story as told by Ben Flebbe and Dan Miles is tempered, action packed, and suspense filled. The art by Milan Misic and Milos Trajkovic is beautiful and vibrant. Altogether, a powerhouse story that will have the reader wanting know more about Japan in general, but about this era.

Story: Ben Flebbe and Dan Miles Art: Milan Misic and Milos Trajkovic
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

When it comes to horror fiction, there very few author names, that comes with a single thought. Those single thoughts are usually tied to the feelings one had when reading these writers works and the physical effects it had on their being, such as sudden claustrophobia. I remember the firs time, I read Brandon Massey, and wondered just how twisted human beings could be. The first time I read Lovecraft, I could not sleep for days, wondering if I something I dreamt would attack me in the middle of the night.

Then there was the wild imagination of Stephen King, which would leave me uneasy for days, as he makes you suspect everyone around you. The only author that I have only been able to read and re-read, for the sheer enjoyment of wanting to be frightened, is the immortal Shirley Jackson. Her book, The Haunting Of Hill House, is one of my most cherished books, and one I would recommend, to those looking for a true scare. Which I why when I found out that her grandson did a graphic adaptation of The Lottery, I wanted to see just how faithful it would be to the original story.

The book opens on a small town, where a rather obscure ritual has endured for centuries, and one that each town person has come to expect. One by one, starting with the children, they assemble in the town square. When everyone is gathered, the lottery begins, one where each family must be represented. By story’s end, the selectee decries their fate, and this where the shock of winning the lottery is unleashed onto the reader.

Overall, a compelling richly told story, filled with dread, suspense and utter dismay that will soon not leave the reader. The story by Shirley Jackson is eerie, mysterious, and gripping. The art by Miles Hyman is both beautiful and deceptive, leaving the reader dazzled. Altogether, this adaptation does justice to a story which is probably Jackson’s most famous and deservedly so, as this proves she was a master of stories.

Story: Shirley Jackson Art: Miles Hyman
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Advance Review: White Ash Chapter Two

In our current political climate, it is hard to believe anyone could keep secrets. Can you keep a secret, when you can find fame and fortune, by revealing a secret of someone else’s? Can you keep a secret if it is a matter of life and death? These are the questions one must consider when one undertakes the holding of a secrets or secrets, as your ability to, can speak to your very integrity.

This becomes even more integral your life, if you whole world is encapsulated by secrets. This is the world of the military, the government and just about every organization in the world, and where terms like need to know and burn boxes are commonplace. This is also what small towns are built on, as lives are tethered to these truths that no outsider would or should ever know. In the second chapter of White Ash, the reader discovers even more of this town seething with deceptions, races and war.

We catch up with Aleck, as he struggles with newly found identity of being a Dwarf, and what it means as far as his place in the town. His father, on his death bed, leaves him a tape, unlocking years of secrets, changing his world forever, as he as to deal with the fact that there are dwarves and elves. This is when Lillian, who is way more adept at what is going on, fills him in on the history between the two races and their customs .  By book’s end, the two are closer, but a hot-headed reaction leaves the fate of one uncertain.

Overall, an outstanding installment that does not disappoint, grips you from page to page. The story by Charlie Stickney is evenly paced, fascinating and leaves you wanting more. The art is breath taking, vivid and unique. Altogether, one of the best indie books of last year got even better with this chapter.

Story: Charlie Stickney Art: Conor Hughes and Fin Cramb
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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