Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: The Other Side Anthology OGN

When it comes to LGTBTQ representation in paranormal fantasies, not too many writers do it as well as Charlaine Harris. Never mind the stories draw you in, but then it showed the world as it really is, but with supernatural beings abound. Since she came onto the scene, there have been many writers and artists to enter the realm.  As far as comics go, there are more than a handful that fall within the supernatural genre, but even fewer that feature LBGTQ characters, which underwrites a bigger problem, where diversity in all its shades, from race, to sex to disability to sexual orientation, have felt the hush, when these groups ask if they are represented.

This is the reason when I heard about the The Other Side Anthology, a collection that focuses on “queer paranormal romance,” I was more than a little interested to know if these creators would do this genre justice within the comics medium. In the first story, “Black Dog,” a hunter reminisces of words by his father which makes him weary of a black dog, which has followed him every day, but little does he know, a surprise connection, awaits him. In “Enbae & Boo,” an online date at a convention for paranormal seekers, turns into a love match. In “Dive”, a grandmother’s tall tale ends up having more truth than she lets her grandchild know.

In “Emma FZR 400RR SP,” a ghost and human connected by a motorcycle start off as antagonistic, but soon fall for each other. In “Halo,” a chance meeting with an angel changes one man’s life forever. “In Beneath My Breath, above my Gaze,” one man’s hike turns into a lifelong love affair with nature. In “Ouija Call Center,” connection to dead people takes a hilarious turn.

In “Pulpit Point,” a love burgeons between a midshipman and a ghost in the most unlikely of circumstances. In “Rabbit Stew,” a woman makes her long dead husband, his favorite dish. In “Fifty Years,” one part of a vampire couple bestows their most rabid hunter as a gift their beloved. In “Shadow’s Bae,” a monster’s girlfriend shows them love knows no bounds. In “Third Circle Pizza,” one half of a couple breaks a centuries old spell on a family that curses their boyfriend.

In “Till Death,” the ghostly half of a couple, haunts a family moving their old house, so that the memory of their love is not lost. In “Tierra Verde,” a mysterious stranger gets hired to get rid of an ethereal being, but what starts out as a job, becomes more than either expected. In “Appliance,” a microwave connects the ghost of a man and his family with a total stranger. In “Airspace,” an unlikely love match occurs when a guitar lesson turns into a literal out of body experience.

In “Bare Bones,” a home improvement job awakens a ghost and saves a life. In “Yes, No Maybe,” a Ouija board leads one woman to a flirtation with a ghost and much more. In “Threnody,” an older woman ponders the need for her in the world, a question, a goddess was more than happy to answer.

The stories contained in this tome, more than shine, they offer light where other writers may be too shy to shed. The art by all the artists more than thrills it, exhilarates. Overall, a great collection, that shows each creator’s range and more than adds to the genre, it shifts the paradigm.

Story: Kou Chen, Mari Costa, Natasha Donovan, Kori Michele Handwerker, Gisele Jobateh, F. Lee, Kate Leth and Katie O’Neill , Sfé R. MonsterMargaret KirchnerAmelia OnoratoAatmaja Pandya, Fyodor Pavlov, Bitmap Prager and Melanie Gillman, Britt SaboBishakh K. SomSarah Winifred Searle and Hannah Krieger, Laurel Varian and Ezra RoseMary Verhoeven, CB Webb
Art: Kou Chen, Mari Costa, Natasha Donovan, Kori Michele Handwerker, Gisele Jobateh, F. Lee, Kate Leth and Katie O’Neill, Sfé R. MonsterMargaret KirchnerAmelia OnoratoAatmaja Pandya, Fyodor Pavlov, Bitmap Prager and Melanie Gillman, Britt SaboBishakh K. SomSarah Winifred Searle and Hannah Krieger, Laurel Varian and Ezra RoseMary Verhoeven, CB Webb, Mildred Louis

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Comichaus #6

I remember the very first time I picked up Epic Illustrated and how cool I thought it was. My Dad did not want me to read Heavy Metal magazine, because he thought it was crazy like the movie, and looking back he was right to some respect. This is where I first read Silver Surfer before he went on his galaxy trotting adventures in the Marvel Universe. He was a completely different character then, a much more serious figure that felt more like X-O Manowar of Valiant Universe, than his current incarnation.

There was something beautiful about how all thee creators brought their A game, and wrote stories like they had nothing to lose at the same time. In the sixth issue of their anthology, each creator reminds me of those writers/illustrators in Epic Illustrated, as thy thrive to write stories to evoke emotion. In the new installment, of Chalk, we get to see Jacqueline utilizing her full powers and up to no good, kind of like in the TV show, Angel, when he was Angelus. In the latest installment of Feather, Doug makes a promise to Sally, as each finds peace in their purpose and their eternal separation.

In Mandy the Monster Hunter, we get to see Mandy in action, as her training and instincts kick in full gear, as she destroys one monsters and recruit help to fight another. In MIA, a new story, a pair of hired guns, breakup an arms deal, which goes sideways quickly. In Cold, as our couple struggles to find a way out, the spirits within, leave a scary surprise, one that leaves them scarred. In Tipples I Time, a family gets transported back in time to the Old West but gets a little more, not only cowboys but also giant aliens.

Overall, all the new stories introduced has made this anthology series more than one to watch. The stories contained within, continue to get better. The art makes black and white panels look beautiful. Altogether, a great issue, where the reader finds a new reason to buy the next issue.

Story: Steven Horry, Dave Cook, Matt Warner, Chris Robertson, Simon Birks, Jimmy Furlong
Art: Catia Fantini, Norrie Millar, Ed Bickford, Vincent Hunt, Richard MacRae, Lyndon White, Andrew Hartmann
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Soviet Daughter

As a teacher once told me years ago in high school, “we are making history every day”. No one ever really understands when they are in the middle of history when most people think of history happening, as for most of us, we are just living.  For people in the middle of history, they are surviving, the amount of bravery that it takes to stand up in an insurrection, cannot be understated, as the many revolutions around the world, have shown it is equal parts faith and fortitude. It reminds me of my family and their reactions to when Ninoy Aquino got shot in the Philippines back in 1983.

Our family had left the Philippines two years prior, but still had extended family and friends there, as the country’s disposition towards the government became untenable, and eventually lead to the ousting of President Marcos. My generation, only knew of what our parents and their brothers and sisters told us, of how it was then and why they felt they had to leave, some of their answers more cryptic than others. Their disdain never quite followed us even though many of us has some of that anti-establishment fervor in our blood, but those ghosts not only haunted them, it haunted us as well. This is what Soviet Daughter reminded me of when I read Julia Alekseyeva’s graphic novel of three generations of her family from when the family was entrenched in the USSR to them finally arriving in Chicago.

In the first few pages, we are introduced to the author, who we find out was a very close to her great grandmother, who had died when was 100 years old, and left her with a memoir, which was not to be read until after she died. What Julia, has found was not only an autobiography of her great grandmother but the story of Russia. We are introduced to family members throughout, showing how difficult life was in Russia, before and after both World Wars. By the end of the book, the author is both devastated and lost when she learned what she did about her great grandmother, a woman though lose to her , she barely knew.

The heartbreaking story of anti-Semitism, World Wars, Stalinism, xenophobia, Communism, and resilience amongst these three generations of women will have you rooting for all of them. The story by Alekseyeva is heart wrenching, with moments of levity, but leave the reader besides themselves. The art by Alekseyeva is appropriate and feels more like a scrapbook for this family than sequential art. Overall, this is a story that will make you wish you knew more about those in your family who have ascended the earth.

Story: Julia Alekseyeva Art: Julia Alekseyeva
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Kahlil Chapter 7: Our Last Day as Children

Loss of innocence I something that has been examined as long as people wondered about the beauty of youth. The best analogy for the loss of innocence to me, is when I saw the Santa Clause for the first time. There is metaphor for this with in the whole film series, where onl kids who still believe can see Tim Allen as Santa Claus. I was still young enough when I saw the movie, to understand what his son in the movie felt when he saw him.

Years later, when I saw those movies with my daughters, I became the pragmatic person his son would become in the later movies, as he truly lost innocence, no longer a child. As we grow up, these things become less magical, as we look for things more tangible.  Within the superhero realm, the loss of innocence is more abrupt for them than us normal human beings. In this issue of Kahlil, we see how his father struggled with not only raising a son but one with superpowers and how his years of studying engineering made it even harder to comprehend.

We find Kahlil’s father, finding a holographic recording intended for Kahlil which gives him some guidance. We also catch up with Kahlil, as he has no idea to tell Lina that he likes the way he feels. She wants to know what exactly happened in Karachi, and how was he able to do what he did. By issue’s end, Kahlil’s father introduces Kahlil and Lina to Jor-El, Kahlil’s biological alien father.

Overall, a great installment that mixes, humor, teen angst, and mythology making into a great story. The story by Kumail Rizvi elevates in this issue, as his nod to the source material, with Jor-El is pure genius. The art by Rizvi is gorgeous. Altogether, another solid issue that continues to thrill.

Story: Kumail Rizvi Art: Kumail Rizvi
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Alpha: The Exchange

The spy is one of those mysterious figures within book, tv shows and movies, which intrigues their audiences because no one knows their true motive, but a select few. You can take the recently returned Game of Thrones, whose Master of Whispers, Varys, started off as another bureaucrat in the King’s Court, but ended up becoming one of the most formidable figures within the series. Then there is Live Schreiber’s John Clark in The Sum of All Fears, a spy who the director relies on heavily, to carry out the tasks no one else will. Then there is Joe Morton’s Rowan Pope in Scandal, a focused spymaster and sometimes operator, who knows when to be pragmatic when others choose to be idealistic.

Let us not forget one of the most enigmatic figures in manga and anime, Duke Togo, better known as Golgo 13, who is more a hired gun than operator, but does offer his services to various organizations within the intelligence community. Then there is Cristopher Chance of Human Target, a character very much like Duke Togo, but not as covert, but just as skilled a tactician. The daily lives of most intelligence operators involve month and years working a job, most of which is boring and may end up fruitless, but also can end up in some sticky situations. In this first volume of Cinebook’s Alpha, the reader delves one such mission.

The story opens on the abduction of a banker’s secretary, as a fortuitous meeting in Paris, has led the Russian Mob, and some financial institutions. The reader is then introduced to Assia Donkova, an art gallery manager, who mundane life gets distracted by a painter by the name of Julian Morgan, who she falls in love with instantly. We soon find out she is being followed by multiple people, as her connections are more than dubious, as she gets caught in a crossfire, during this meeting. By the end of this first volume, Morgan is a spy for the CIA, that goes by the code name, Alpha, and Assia, is more than what she seems as well.

Overall, a fun romp through of a cold war spy thriller, which will leave the reader on the edge of their seat, wondering exactly who each person really is. The story by Pacal Renard moves at a pace slow enough for the reader to get invested but fast enough for you know you are reading a spy thriller. The art by Youri Jiguonov harkens back to a time when sequential art was trying to find its place between realistic and cartoonish. Altogether, this reminds me of the old spy thrillers, which defined the term, “slow burn” and for good reason, as the payoff is the least of the joys, it is about  how the creators gets you invested into story is what make sit shine.

Story: Pacal Renard Art: Youri Jiguonov
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: El Peso Hero #2

One of the most underrated shows of all time, in my humble opinion, and probably one of the best shows to come from Showtime, is Weeds. It started off as a show about a newly widowed single mother in the suburbs trying to figure out a way to survive and raise her two sons. The show evolved to more than hat, as it challenged what society thought of gender roles and how much America had misunderstood the war on drugs until then. Eventually, the main character would deal, with Mexican cartels, and just how powerful they were.

They also got into money laundering and exactly how they hid the money and how they distributed the drugs. They also delved into exactly how the cartels got the drugs between both countries, and what has famously been made light of on the news because of El Chapo, the underground tunnels. This had a whole story arc within one of its penultimate seasons, and showed audiences how big these networks are. In the second issue of El Peso Hero, our hero stops some traffickers form traveling across to America.

Shortly after, he is recruited by his cousin to stop a large shipment of weapons by one of the drug lords. Little does he know it is a trap to lure him to in the open by Don Catrin, which ends in disaster. El Peso Hero, makes it his mission to find out who is responsible for the casualties. The issue ends with a fire fight on a crowded bridge between Don Catrin’s men and the police, which ends in a casualty of someone close to El Peso Hero.

Overall, an engaging second issue which takes the reader right in the middle of the action. The story by Hector Rodriguez continues to surprise, and steps up his game over the first issue. The art by Guillermo Villareal still resonates with the reader, leaving their eyes dazzled. Altogether, an excellent issue which pushes this narrative forward and sets up what look to be a major battle.

Story: Hector Rodriguez III Art: Guillermo Villareal
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Kiss of the Demoness

Attraction is a funky thing, as you never know who you will fall for and when. People spend their whole lives looking for that one. Then there are those who look but have a million things that they don’t want in their partner. I have a few friends who have a bunch of deal breakers when it comes to someone they would date.

The reality is, the rules of attraction, don’t really follow, because in my experience, and most of my friends’ experiences, they usually fall for the one person who was never their type. I think that is why the world is so obsessed with “shipping”, as we see the chemistry between two characters, and writers write fanfic to explore that. TV shows have been doing it for years, flirting with the audiences’ hearts, as they forge certain relationships and deny others. In Kiss of the Demoness, two characters constant flirtation turns into a somewhat obsession.

In this short story, we meet Mal and Viv, a demoness and a human, who help each other out from time to time., by trading money for a kiss. The catch is every time Mal kisses Viv, she falls asleep. This puts Mal in a conundrum as it becomes more than a transaction for her, it becomes an attraction. By the end of the story, our characters do find love.

Overall, an exceptional story, which will challenge your notions of where a story is going to go. The story by Gillian Pascasio is beautiful and smart. The art by Pascasio really soars, as both characters illuminate these panels. Altogether, a fun sweet story that will have you thinking about your first crush.

Story: Gillian Pascasio Art: Gillian Pascasio
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Vol. 1

Afrofuturism is one of those genre/subjects that has been getting a lot of love as of recent. In the latest trailer and movie stills from the upcoming movie for Black Panther, much of the world is getting to know exactly what Afrofuturism, means and what fans of Black Panther like myself have known for years. The concepts and characters that were introduced in Black Panther’s mythology showed to only an advanced view of technology but also of diversity. This is not to say that there were not some storylines that had some problems and as well as some characters that looks more like some stereotypes.

Unfortunately, not too many characters, unless it is from publishers in Africa, have been written about Afrofuturism in Africa, unless one counts the last take on the Unknown Soldier.   There have been American takes on Afrofuturism like Mr. Terrific and many of the characters from the Dakota Universe. Other than these examples, this has been a scarcely explored genre, which a treasure trove of possibilities that many creators are afraid or lazy to explore. So, when I found out about E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, I was thrilled.

The reader is taken to 2025 Lagos, Nigeria, in a technologically advanced society where technology is used to commit crimes and the police are at a disadvantage against smarter criminals. This is where the reader is introduced to EXO, a superhero who questions whether he is the answer. We are given his complicated backstory, one that has echoes of tony Stark, but smarter and with a direct moral compass.  Before the end of this volume, he not only has to contend to dirty politics, rising crime, a few new allies but a supervillain, that may spell doom for Exo.

Overall, a beautiful portrait of how the world, especially in Nigeria, will look in the future, and how diverse heroes can be just as good or even better than the vanilla ones the comic book world has been flooded with. The story by Roye Okupe is engaging, action packed and provides enough twists and turns. The art by Sunkanmi Akinboye thrives and delivers as many punches as the story does. Altogether, a great book that should not be missed and will have the reader tuning in for the next episode.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Sunkanmi Akinboye
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Destiny, NY

We as human beings are pressed upon by society to have goals and think about our future. These things become expectations and when you don’t achieve these expectations or exceed them, then one des feel like a disappointment. There are many words to describe this path to your achievement but one usually is used, is potential. Potential in human beings are hard to assess, as no one really knows how far you can go.

Regret and Reminiscing takes place, when these don’t occur, as age only compounds the anxiety with not reaching your full potential. I bring up all these elements within the psyche of reaching your potential, to think of it within a magical world. How interesting of a story, it could have been, if Harry Potter never went to Hogwarts but still possessed magic or if Quentin Coldwater had not gone to Brakebills? A variation of this scenario is explored in Destiny, NY, where magic is real and accepted.

The readers are introduced to Logan McBride, who as a child was part of a prophecy, and just like many child stars, they are forgotten, burn out or excel, and the reader gets to find out exactly which one she is within the first few pages. What follows are characters who would otherwise be outcasts in other stories be the normal part of society in this one, a refreshing take that drives the story in beautiful twisted directions that other writers would petrified to take. We follow Logan, as  she works the class system within Destiny University’s school for Prophecy Kids and a Lilith, a hardened outcast whose family, is actually trying to kill her .By the end of the first story arc, the school is a little bit more connected than one would ever believe and as a bonus, the reader gets treated to some mini-stories involving some of the main characters.

Overall, an excellent book, which far outshines most stories with supernatural settings, and the fact that LGBTQ and includes people of color. The story by Pat Shand is complex, seamless and is by far the best fantasy storytelling I have read in a while. The art by Manuel Preitano is elegant, detailed, and lifelike. Altogether, this is type of book the world needed yesterday as this shows a world where magic and realistic relationships exist in the same world.

Story: Pat Shand Art: Manuel Preitano
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Liar

I remember years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I took a college class at night one semester. I was the only one my age there and everyone was older, not only college age but also beyond that. There was on woman I met, who was in her 30s, one night me and her end up having a conversation, at a pizzeria near the school. She pretty much told me her whole history of trials and tribulations that lead her to going back to school at her age.

The main takeaway from that conversation I got, was life is unpredictable and finding your place in the world is harder than one would ever imagine.  She never once held anything back, about how hard anything was and how her kids really did not appreciate what she was doing. Years later, I went through my own mini crisis of conscience, as I was getting gout of the military, and did not know if I could adapt to civilian life, then for a moment, realized how much more difficult it was for her. So, when I read Liar, it brought me back to that question of finding one’s place in this world.

In the story we meet, Chepi, a magical outcast from the human world, who is forbidden from any contact with humans. This is until he meets Janek, who he clearly has a strong attraction to. In this prelude comic, the reader is invited to find out how magical Chepi, as his power over plants and flowers are on full display. By the end, if the issue, Janek calls Chepi on his unassuming nature, which Janek soon realizes he can’t hide.

Overall, an excellent story that uses botany in the most interesting and alluring of ways that only sequential art can fully realize. The story by Hari Conner is uses setting in the most stimulating fashion, while realistically showing attraction at its most primal. The art by Conner is striking, alluring, sensitive to the characters and engaging to look at. Altogether, a great introduction to this story and these characters, that will no doubt leave the reader ensconced in this beautiful world.

Story: Hari Conner Art: Hari Conner
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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