Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Acursian #1

ACURSIAN #1

The power of karma cannot ever be understated. One can look at it as fate, where one can control their destiny up to a point. You can do everything right and it can still go wrong at the end. One such impressive and sorrowful exposition of this concept is in the season finale of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

Throughout the first season of the show, we find the protagonist using her newfound gift to solve the problems of those closest to her and strangers. This, of course, changed in the season finale when she could not do anything to help her father’s ultimate demise, something she knew was coming and had to accept no matter what she did, sometimes bad things happen to good people. In the debut issue of Acursian, we find a protagonist who has a made life until he gets cursed with an old Celtic legend.

We open on three birds who we find out are actually old Celtic witches, who ascend on Charlie Stewart, a successful lawyer after a late night/early morning tryst. The witches looking at his charmed existence decides to change everything through a curse. We find out the night before, in Chicago, his father, Jock, awakened a Celtic god, unleashing an unparalleled evil. By the issue’s end, a series of unfortunate events leads him to question everything.

Overall, an engaging debut issue which this team masterfully crafts. The story by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis is thrilling. The pencils by Beni Lobel and design by Tommy Lee Edwards is luminous. Altogether, a story which pushes boundaries and adds to the canon of fine storytelling.

Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards
Color: Chris Sotomayor Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Discombobulated: The Exploration

DISCOMBOBULATED: THE EXPLORATION

There are times in our lives where we question everything. When we wonder if we are living a lie. In these instances, we ponder our circumstances and the people we surround ourselves with. It also begs us to question our choices in life and for those who we are responsible for.

This sometimes makes us take chances. This is when those closest to those of us may think we are crazy. In truth, we may be, but at least we lived. In the eleventh story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, David decides to take a chance.

We find David, ruminating on what Annie told him and what his inner conscience has revealed to him. He ponders over the last year including his episode with K’Tel, which made him question his sexuality but opened himself to even more questions. David eventually looks to K’Tel for direction but not to be a guide, as simply a sounding board as he still doesn’t understand everything about bisexuality. By the story’s end, David becomes more aware of his ignorance.

Overall, a candid chapter about the creator. The story by David F. Walker is honest. The art by CM Dyer and Marcus Kwame Anderson is fantastic. Altogether, a story that shows the complications of choices as an adult.

Story: David F. Walker Art: CM Dyer, Marcus Kwame Anderson
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Hotell #1

Hotell #1

When it comes to noir movies, I think many new filmmakers tend to try too hard. Take, for instance, Knives Out, where it wins much on the story and the execution, as well as the performances by some great actors. Where it lacks is how it lacked many of the tropes that make the genre so effective, and even the foil, at times, was underwhelming. This is in great contrast, to his noir masterpiece, Brick, which continues to stun years after its debut.

It is within the subtleties which makes a noir thriller great. One of my favorite movies within the genre of recent was Bad Times at the El Royale. All taking place in a hotel right on the border of two states. In the debut issue of Hotell, we find such a place like the El Royale, both bizarre and intended.

We are taken to the Pierre Courts Hotel, hidden on Route 66, where we meet Jack Lynch, the hotel check-in clerk, who seems to be more than a weird old man. We meet a pregnant young lady, Alice, seeming desperate and possibly on the run, and needing a place to find respite. We soon find out that she is on the run from an abusive boyfriend, who practically haunts her dreams. We find out it is not the baby’s father who controls her dreams, it’s actually her Baby. By issue’s end, Ted eventually catches up to Alice but not without being scathed and what their baby is, is wholly disturbing.

Overall, an excellent story that blends horror and noir into a satisfying dish that will more than have readers intrigued. The story by John Lees is eerie and well developed. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that will have readers on the edge of their seat.

Story: John Lees Art: Dalabor Talajic, Lee Loughridge, and Karen Andrews
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Resistance #1

THE RESISTANCE #1

The show Smallville is probably one of the best fresh takes on a well-worn tale. Superman is probably one of the most prolifically adapted comic book adaptations of all time. DC Comics has had great success with him and Batman but has only recently started to explore the rest of their pantheon on television and movies.  What made the show so appealing was how he struggled with both growing up and having superpowers.

One of the biggest storylines throughout the show is the meteor shower that brought Kal El to Earth. It gave powers to hundreds of people, some who used them for good and some for bad. What that revealed is that everything is a choice. In the debut issue of The Resistance, a similar event happens like in Smallville but more catastrophic results.

We descend into a world where a virus much like COVID has ravaged masses, leaving world leaders at no intelligible way of conveying what is happening. As we meet one young child who suffers from this retrovirus that her parents seemingly have moments left with her before she passes. We go to Moscow and Beijing, where their political leaders frustrate and ruminate of how to self-quarantine, with no cure in sight. Eventually, riots break out worldwide, followed by months of panic and deaths, in surprisingly, jubilation, as a cure was never produced, but the virus simply stopped attacking. We meet Lisa, one of a pair of twins who survive the virus, but whose sister dies from unforeseen circumstances, but who has gained powers maybe because of it. America also gets a new president, an independent, whose claims seem more of a true center than real politicians on the surface, but is actually a plan for a fascist government. By the issue’s end, an important person in the president’s circle is taken by men in black masks, which can mean impossible times for the survivors.

Overall, an excellent debut issue, that re-contextualizes the times we are in and adding a superhero twist. The story by J. Michael Straczynski is relevant and is very well developed. The art by the creative team is breathtaking. Altogether, a story that will be relevant for a very long time.

Story: J. Michael Straczynski Art: Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin Jr., and Rahzzah
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: All We Ever Wanted: Stories of a Better World

All We Ever Wanted

When it comes to how the future will look, most creators these days only show us how worse the world can get. This direction may be attributed to the decline of the environment and the primal predilection of man. Things don’t exactly look all that great for us. The stories usually involves zombies like The Walking Dead or the widening of the gap between the poor and rich like The Hunger Games. Rarely do they involve utopias as dystopias create the more interesting conflicts that drives our entertainment.

The thing is there was a time and place where we looked to the stars and though of the possibilities. This is why Back to The Future II was one of the most indelible movies of 1980s and probably most talked about out of that franchise. It gave us hope of what the world could be. Utopias for some reason seem out of reach to the modern imagination. In the latest anthology form A Wave Blue World, All We Ever Wanted, we get several different visions of life in the future where life can be better.

In “The Pilot,” a pilot controls a ship her VR glasses only to encounter an alien queen and her earthbound ally. In “The Weight of Time,” one scientist uses time travel to try and wipe out anti LGBTQ backlash but instead realizes the problem is actually ahead. In “Una,” an alien wins the hearts and minds of the citizens she protects, eventually becoming a citizen because of it. In “Seventeen Souls,” one hero risks it all to save one girl from certain death. In “It Looked like Our Dreams,” two siblings wonder about a future where humanity does save itself. In “Gaea,” mother nature and technology defeat an alien invader in which one protagonist uses to her advantage.  In “Bombs Away,” a world is imagined where violence no longer leads to advantages or problem solving but unity as it was always intended.  In “And The Rest Was Magic,” one woman finds out how it is when one doesn’t buy into the propaganda of a dire future. In “Everything I Own,” one self-admitted pariah slowly builds a community around herself while at the same time, evolving. In “The Inventor’s Daughter,” one woman reunites with her mother after death and returns her to the essence. In “Blackstar,” one man helps people see their future for a cost. In “Life’s A Devil’s Bargain,” one woman shows how hate is more of a choice than one realizes. In “Chat Room,” one awkward girl finds solace with a friend that met online. In “Can you See it Now,” one couple finds out an evil corporation is behind a friend’s death. In “Just Like Heaven,” one young man’s defiance leads to him finding out the secret to the utopia he is living in. In “Alternica,” a man wakes up from being frozen to a world where money doesn’t exist. In “Owning Up To The Past,” one man admits to his daughter, the unjust violence he committed. In “Good Time,” one man’s wish is to see his daughter years after he is released from jail. In “Day At The Park,” a young girl teaches a robot how to fly a kite. In “Choice,” one man designed a robot to have the power of free will, to only regret his decision immediately. In “Seeds,” the grim reaper reminds a retired superhero that there is more to life than regrets.  In “Two Left Feet,” two thieves steal for the love of dance.

Overall, the anthology is an excellent collection of stories that shows that the future can be bright and we all should wear shades. The stories are as diverse and extraordinary as each contributor showing off a wide range of voices and visions. The art by each creator is magnetic, alluring, and vivid. Altogether, the world needs more visions of utopias and this book more than proves it.

Story: Matt Miner, Eric Palicki, Tyler Chin- Tanner, Lucia Fasano, Tess Fowler, Eliot Rahal, Jason Copland, Jennie Wood, Vasilis Pozios, Chris Visions, Lela Gwenn, Alex Paknadel, Chris Peterson, Alisa Kwitney, Mauricet, Josh Gorfain, Matt Lejuene, Howard Mackie, Dean Trippe, Justin Zimmerman, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Toby Cypress, Paul Allor, Jarrett Melendez, Taylor Hoffman, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Rich Douek, James Maddox, Gavin Smith, Nadia Shammas, Erik Burnham, Kay Honda, Maria Frohlich
Art: Dean Trippe, Danica Brine, Chris Peterson, Robbi Rodriguez, Michael Wiggam, Maria Frohlich, David Stoll, Ryan Lee, Juan Romera, Tony Gregori, Tess Fowler, Chris Visions, Ethan Claunch, Jude Vigants,  K.R.Whalen, Matt Horak, Jeff McComsey,  Gavin Smith, Ryan Cody, Liana Kangas, Anthony Marques, Jason Copland, Eryk Donovan, Micah Meyers, Josh Jensen, Nick Wentland, Taylor Esposito, Matt Krotzer, Zakk Saam
Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

A Wave Blue World provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle

Review: Firebrand #1

Firebrand

As a fan of Salem and Charmed, I’ve always been fascinated by the witch archetype. I grew up watching then reruns of Bewitched, and remember being mesmerized by the twitch of Elizabeth Montgomery’s nose. Then came the ultra hilarious Hocus Pocus and the dark comedy of Witches of Eastwick. All of these gave readers a variety of how the witch was portrayed, versus its much antiquated medieval models.

Though each of them showcased a unique take, it never felt like any of these characters were relatable. The most recent reboot of Charmed sought to rectify this but ended up feeling forced. Netflix did one better by giving us Always A Witch which gave us a black protagonist in modern Spain. In Jessica Chobot, Erika Lewis, and Claudia Aguirre’s debut issue of Firebrand, we meet a protagonist much like Always A Witch’s Carmen, who is far from your ordinary.

We meet Natali Presano, on the day of her birth, where her parents are gushing over their newborn daughter, as a family secret comes to light. Where we find out Natali’s mom, Elysia, comes from a long line of witches in Spain, who are known to be the most powerful ever, as Natali’s birth, would lead to Elysia’s death and her father alone to raise her. As her life would not be easy for her and her Dad, but it was not all easy and it was not all bad, as he would eventually remarry. By issue’s end, her new stepmother is not as nice as it seems and she may have inherited some of her mother’s powers.

Overall, an excellent story which follows the tracks of this well-told genre and gives reader a protagonist who will remind some of Harry Potter but is a hero in her own right. The story by Jessica Chobot and Erika Lewis is well developed and well characterized. The art by Claudia Aguirre is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that readers will both enjoy and be challenged by.

Story: Jessica Chobot and Erika Lewis Art: Claudia Aguirre
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Discombobulated: The Return: Back to Therapy

DISCOMBOBULATED: THE RETURN: BACK TO THERAPY

For many of us, time is all we have these days. Hours turn into days and days turn into weeks. For some of us, it’s a time for us to get to know ourselves. For others, it is a nice way to do those home improvements we have endlessly neglected.

We also tend to work on things that we never had time for before. So when we pick some of those things back up, it can be some work. Our excuses still exist but don’t matter as much. In the tenth story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, David decides to revisit this very comic.

We find David, utilizing those same excuses he has always, as his inner voice brings him back to reality, realizing the finger-pointing should go only one direction. As he attempts to bare his soul to his therapist, she reveals to him, that he never has taken responsibility for his marriage and divorce. He also tries to make amends with Annie, which goes as planned, horribly. By story’s end, David learns he has to be truthful with himself before moving on with his life

Overall, an honest chapter which shows why fans love this strip. The story by David F. Walker is comical. The art by DJ Parnell is spectacular. Altogether, a story that shows Walker’s openness with his audience.

Story: David F. Walker Art: DJ Parnell 
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Barack, Race and the Media: The Obama Legacy

BARACK, RACE AND THE MEDIA: THE OBAMA LEGACY

The state of the world right now makes us almost forget that the world used to be much happier. The pandemic has caused most of us to reflect. It also has caused most of us not to ignore levels of ineptitude in crisis handling worldwide. We expect the best in our world leaders and that is why when the military goes into conflicts they hope their higher-ups are making the best decisions. This is the reason why many world leaders during WWII are often immortalized. Being headstrong was not only an asset but an intangible.

That is why during times of hardship, despite his complicated life, Winston Churchill is often quoted. It is why Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted by everyone imaginable to inspire courage and fortitude. It is why though his tenure recently ended, we find ourselves drawn to the words of President Barack Obama. In the brilliantly and much needed Barack, Race and the Media: The Obama Legacy, we find creators who were both moved and inspired by our former president.

In the first few pages, we find David Brown’s early illustrations of then Freshman Senator from Illinois, and his apparent widespread effect on those who heard his speech at the DNC and how he came under fire from those who sought to poke holes where there was none. He also gets into the attacks by the GOP and how the mainstream media sought to question his blackness.  Lalo Alcatraz would show how much better a President, Obama was compared to George W Bush and the loss America felt after Trump’s takeover. David Horsey elaborates on the uphill battle Hillary Clinton faced as the heir apparent to Obama, and the battle he faced against Mitch McConnell. Angelo Lopez shows just how hard a road Obama had against the GOP and how their major criticism also became their major undoing, The Affordable Care Act. Steve Greenberg gives readers a view of how his run for a second term was almost imminent and the opposition Fox News gave him. David Brown eventually gets into the issues of police brutality and how it has affected the mass incarceration system. By Book’s end, Brown shows the reader though we have progressed, America is far from being accepting of all its citizens.

Overall, a book that is far from a mere comic strip collection but a cohesive narrative showcasing some of the world’s top talents telling a history of how much better we were. The stories by the creative team are relevant and relatable. The art by the creative team is gorgeous, as each a rtist brings their own style which feels true to each strip’s message. Altogether, one of the best books I have read about the Obama presidency I have read in a while.

Story: David G. Brown, Angelo Lopez, Lalo Alcaraz, David Horsey, Tim Jackson, and Steve Greenberg
Art: David G. Brown, Angelo Lopez, Lalo Alcaraz, David Horsey, Tim Jackson, and Steve Greenberg
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Green Hornet: Solitary Sentinel #1

GREEN HORNET: SOLITARY SENTINEL #1

Growing up in New York, I used to turn to WPIX 11, for my daily after school viewing. It was and still is an independent television station. A good amount of programming was dedicated to syndicated shows. Many of these shows were shows of yesteryear. Most of them were shows my parents and even my grandparents watched. One of those shows was the original Hawaii Five-O which my grandfather watched religiously and even made me and my cousins watch it as well.

The live-action Batman starring Adam West and Burt Ward was a show that my cousins and I watched unfailingly every single afternoon. So one day, everything changed when we saw that he had a new villain, Green Hornet and his sidekick, Kato, who we eventually found out later in the episode was Bruce Lee. It wasn’t until I started reading the NOW comics run did I learn that he was not a villain but a superhero and that arc on the show was so that Batman would not look weak on his own show. In the first issue of The Geen Hornet: Solitary Sentinel, we get a hero still trying to find his way.

We are taken to 1991, where Britt and Paul Reid and Hayashi are debating the latest election results at their loft at Reid Tower, where another crooked politician has taken office. As the evening winds down, Hayashi retires to the estate’s beach house, where his brother, Kumara, pounces on him and knocks him out, thereby kidnapping him so that he cannot interfere with the Mayor’s plans. Meanwhile, Paul is trying to enjoy the rest of the night alone when some mysterious men break in an attempt to kidnap Paul as well but fail tremendously. Paul reaches out to Carol Lee, who lets him know how some trumped-up charges on his father and their corporation mysteriously appeared and how they are all wanted men. By the issue’s end, Paul finds his resolve to save his loved and the city from these corrupt forces.

Overall, an engaging debut issue that plays a different story than most masked heroes are usually involved in. The story by James Van Hise is action packed and scintillating. The art by creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a story that comic book fans will enjoy getting to know a hero before he knows who he will be.

Story: James Van Hise Art: Andrea Albert, Ken Penders, Tony DeZuniga, and Tony Caputo
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Discombobulated: The Things We Tell Our Therapist

DISCOMBOBULATED: THE THINGS WE TELL OUR THERAPIST

In the time we’re living in now, it’s difficult to prioritize anything over staying alive. Many of the things we complained about before have become ridiculous. The people we had disagreements with suddenly aren’t on top of the pyramid of our worries. Our mental health is what will either sustain us or damage us during this pandemic.

A growing concern is if cabin fever leads to crimes within the household. An increase in domestic violence is a valid concern. Men in these situations often let their anger lead the way. In the ninth story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, David chooses a more peaceful path with Annie, one which he talks through with his therapist.

We find David, meeting with his therapist who gives him an unprofessional opinion, which he is an idiot for the way he reacted to Annie. This also when his therapist tries to lead him to the point that he also has an imaginary girlfriend, who more than bares a passing resemblance to She-Hulk. As an argument plays out in his mind, where his imaginary girlfriend, tries to break up with him, buy pointing out all his faults. By the story’s end, David’s imaginary girlfriend breaks up with him to go with his subconscious.

Overall, an interesting chapter which shows the inner workings of our protagonist. The story by David F. Walker is funny. The art by DJ Parnell is breathtaking. Altogether, a story that shows Walker’s skills with comedy.

Story: David F. Walker Art: DJ Parnell 
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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