Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Winterman Comics #1

Winterman Comics

Who doesn’t like to read about new heroes, people that capture our imagination?As most heroes are simply extensions of their creators. As their imaginations lead them to some fun places. Though we have enjoyed the many different created universes throughout comics, it is alarming, the marginalization of POC creators.

The mere absence of the many creators who could have crafted worlds we would have enjoyed for years is simply sad. Even the most well known Black comic book character right now, Black Panther, was created by 2 white creators.  As we never saw the mainstream vision of Black heroes by black creators until 1993, when Milestone Comics was founded. Geoff Thorne unleashes a new universe of heroes starting with a fierce water-friendly hero in the first chapter to his book, Winterman Comics.

We are taken to a place called Other Country, where our hero is looking for some R&R. We find her in her natural habitat and spending time with old acquaintances. She finds out that her once peaceful home has come under attack from one of her neighbors forcing her into action and a search for vengeance.

Overall, a great first issue that shows heroes are also needed at home. The story by Thorne is mesmeric. The art by Thorne is graceful. Altogether, a story that boils with excitement.

Story: Geoff Thorne Art: Geoff Thorne
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall:9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn #1

The Wrath and The Dawn

When it comes to agency and the role of women during any time of history it is usually largely absent. It’s illustrated in the epic Game Of Thrones. The show has many faults in its portrayal of certain characters and largely of certain archetypes. Examples are the women and people of color, where one was mostly at a disadvantage and the other mostly nonexistent.

Of the two, the women within the show had a mixed bag of results of whether they gained agency or suffered because due to the lack of it. We saw Daenerys rise because men usually misunderstood her or underestimated her, where she rose to power unequivocally. We also saw how the sand Snakes meet their demise because of their lack of agency. In a beautiful graphic adaptation of Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and The Dawn, we meet another female protagonist, who looks to end another tyrant’s rule of terror.

We meet General Al Khoury, as he ensures the killing of another bride, of the Caliph. As we soon find out that the Caliph, Khalid, is cursed for the kill 100 hundred women for the one whom he took unjustly.  We also meet Shahrzad, a young lady who is the first to volunteer to be one of these brides, who is getting prepped to meet Khalid. Her father visits her for what might be the last time they see each other, he tries to impart something memorable of their home, but it soon dissipates, leaving to make one last plea to her to withdraw her betrothal. By issue’s end, we find out about Shahrzad’s reason for volunteering as she looks to end Khalid’s killings.

Overall, a wonderful heroine who does not despair and does not waver. The story by Ahdieh is engaging. The art by SilvesterVitale is breathtaking. Altogether, a harrowing tale of the sheer power of one woman’s fury.

Story: Renée Ahdieh Art:SilvesterVitale
Story: 10 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Haxor #1

Haxor

Isaac Asimov is one of the greatest architects of science fiction and his influence has grown exponentially. AS what he dreamt almost a century ago now, is so relevant today that you must be blind not draw the comparisons. His visions of the future are truly the present we live in now, and in some ways, our reality is much grimmer than he ever imagined. Where he saw robots go, the world saw it go further.

As the most recent in memory adaptation of his work, I, Robot, revisited some of those classic tropes, which only Asimov could evoke so hauntingly. Will Smith’s character represented the viewer, it showed how we struggle with technology, especially when we benefit from it. As it can be true that sometimes too much technology is too much. In Walter Ostlie’s excellent Haxor, we find a protagonist dealing with this very dilemma.

We meet our protagonist, Iso, who is being awakened by an alarm clock, which will not go off no matter what she does. As she lives in Shi-Bu City, where its inhabitants play games for a living, and where one corporation owns the game and practically all Shi Bu’s inhabitants. We also meet Wire, a grizzled veteran gamer whose disdain for the game and the corporation has made him cynical and reckless. By the issue’s end, Iso enters the game, where something already doesn’t seem right.

Overall, an interesting introduction to a world not so distant from ours, with a brand new protagonist whom we can cheer for. The story by Walter Ostlie is fun and engaging. The art by Ostlie is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that introduces a universe both familiar and still nascent.

Story: Walter Ostlie Art: Walter Ostlie
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Hotell #4

HOTELL #4

There is a reason why everyone who has watched any of Alfred Hitchcock’s films calls him the master of suspense. As his deft use of tension and silence allowed the one thing viewers usually hope for, relief. As you unconsciously hope the good guys win and the evil incarnate perishes. This is where Hitchcock both excels and cruelly tricks the viewer, as this si where he usually twists the knife.

As the terror that usually we spend the whole film waiting, for is equally unanticipated and worse than what the viewer expected.  Take, for example, Psycho, where we find out who is the villain in the film, as they are both tragic and inexorably malevolent. As the materialization of said sinister force, makes the payoff, that much more rewarding.  In the final issue of Hotell, the Pierrot Courts finally have their reckoning.

We are taken back for the last time, to the Pierre Courts Hotel, where the front desk clerk, as our narrator, feels the agitation and knows we are asking to leave, from the frights that lie within. We meet David, a man traveling with a priest, Father Villalobos, who just kidnapped his son, Cody, believing he was been possessed by a dark spirit, prompting David to commit an exorcism. Before long, the spirit overtakes him, destroying the hotel and a long-dead secret which leads the spirit to the hotel in the first place, leaving the place overtaken by the fire. By the story’s end, every occupant gets their comeuppance, in the most unsettling ways.

Overall, a more than satisfying conclusion to a collection of stories that has redefined nightmare fuel. The story by John Lees is shocking. The art by the creative team is spectacular. Altogether, a story that more than induces fear, it remixes it for the modern era.

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

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Devil’s Highway #1

Devil's Highway #1

Rosario Dawson is one of those magnetic presences on the screen which pulls you in from the first words she utters. I remember seeing her in the underrated cautionary tale, KIDS. Then I would not see her in another movie until He Got Game. She played Ray Allen’s girlfriend in that movie, in a role, which compared to the roles she has played since is much more than her more sophisticated roles.

In one of her most recent roles, she played an interesting protagonist whose world gets thrown for a loop in Briarpatch. Her character goes back to her hometown where her sister got killed in a mysterious car bomb. The show played up its crime noir roots and utilized Dawson’s strengths. In the debut issue of Devils Highway, we find a protagonist much like Dawson’s character in Briarpatch, who finds out the secrets family keeps, can be dangerous.

We are taken to Drift County, Wisconsin, where a young woman frantically walks into a diner drenched in blood and scared out of her mind, as someone looks to kill her. Three days later, we meet our protagonist, Sharon whose father was killed and she came home to find out exactly why. She would retrace the clues that the police never did, where their due diligence faltered. By issue’s end, Sharon uncovers a serial killer at play, one whose fingerprints are all over Drift County.

Overall, an excellent debut issue which will give readers vibes of Briarpatch, but also, Fargo. The story by Benjamin Percy is tremendous. The art by the creative team is breathtaking. Altogether, another fine addition to the canon of crime noir.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Brent Schoonover
Color: Nick Filardi Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics

Review: Displacement

DISPLACEMENT

A movie, which has had a long-lasting effect on me, was Sankofa. The movie, made by a film professor at Howard University, expanded on the definition of speculative fiction. It revolved around a model who did a photoshoot in what was a slave castle. Unbeknownst to her, she is transported back in time to when slavery was still legal and her life instantly becomes a living nightmare.

The movie and the story that propelled it brought into view the struggle that many Black people have to contend with. Something that Black Panther did in the fight between T’Challa and Killmonger, showing how these two worlds were not only associated but remained in perpetual struggle. This is an internal fight for all who are of two worlds, never feeling as you belong to either, yet still feeling lost in the wilderness known as life because of it.  In Kiku Hughes‘s affecting Displacement, we find one such protagonist, who finds out firsthand what her grandmother went through during World War II in her own living nightmare.

We meet Kiku as she writes in a journal, of her current predicament, as her situation is not normal, as she stuck back in a time that is not hers. As she recalls the first time, she traveled back in time, when her mother took her to San Francisco, to find the house her grandmother lived in, when suddenly everything around her was instantly different, and she was at her grandmother’s school, and where she saw a disturbing sign, but before she could make sense of what happened, she was transported back to her time and back to her mother, who was trying to find her. This would happen to Kiku a few more times before it happened permanently. She finds herself in an internment camp, with her grandmother. She endures the atrocities that all Japanese American people did at that time, including being separated from family, censoring newspapers, random inspections, being moved to another internment camp with no notice, loyalty questionnaires, and allegiance hearings. From there it’s a mystery of the travel and what it will take for her to return to her own time.

Overall, Displacement is an illuminating and harrowing story that shows the devastating effects of “trauma in the blood” and no matter how many generations have passed. As Shakespeare eloquently eschewed “ What’s past is prologue” and this important book is the most brilliant and heartfelt exposition of that quote in our modern times. The story by Hughes is fantastical, poignant, and relevant. The art by Hughes is awe-inspiring. Altogether, a story that should bring full circle why the legalization of racial discrimination at any time, is not only deplorable but un-human.

Story: Kiku Hughes Art: Kiku Hughes
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall:10 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Amazon – Hardcover/Paperback/Kindle

Review: The Resistance #3

The Resistance #3

In our new world of social media, life has become different. People who are normally introverts in person may find their voice behind a keyboard. People who cannot express their views in a normal setting find their platforms online. It is through this new medium, that the taste of celebrity can be intoxicating.

Some people use it for good, bringing attention to much-needed causes. Then there are those who use it for their own ignorance. Which makes you wonder how would superpowered beings operate in a climate like we have now? In the third issue of The Resistance, a hero must make a moral choice

We’re taken to the Swan Kirby Chase Powers Placement Agency, which is a one-stop shop for these newly superpowered people. We meet  James, one of the new super-powered beings. We also meet Hector Alvarez, the man who outfits all these “superheroes” and leads him to find his superhero name. We also get some background on James how his family abandoned him soon after finding out his new abilities. By the issue’s end, he senses there may be something he doesn’t want to be part of and becomes his own hero.

Overall, a powerful third issue, which gives readers a hero to root for. The story by J. Michael Straczynski is gripping. The art by the creative team of Mike Deodato Jr., Lee Loughridge, and Sal Cipriano is splendid. Altogether, a story that gives readers a new perspective.

Story: J. Michael Straczynski Art: Mike Deodato Jr., Lee Loughridge, Sal Cipriano
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Hotell #3

HOTELL #3

The Old Guard has created a lot of chatter since it premiered. The film starring Charlize Theron offered a new take on the hitman genre. My first thought was that it may be another Wanted. Also based on a comic series, it turned out to be much more, as these particular hitmen are mostly immortal.

Just like the book, it got into the backstories of several important characters. We find out Charlize Theron’s character knew another immortal that got imprisoned underwater for the rest of her days. The mere thought of never being able to die and being held captive for the rest of your days is in effect hell on earth. In the third issue of Hotell, the Pierrot Courts have a guest who may not leave.

We are taken to the Pierre Courts Hotel, where we meet Kirsten Clements, who is driving in the rain to right to the Pierrot Courts. As we soon find out she is tracking the whereabouts of a woman who went missing at the hotel and never left. She soon has a nightmare where the victim finds her, which leaves her restless, and leads her down a tunnel where an ungodly discovery captures her. By the issue’s end, Kirsten realizes she now faces the same fate as the victim she came to look for.

Overall, a skin-crawling entry into an already spooky story. The story by John Lees is devastating. The art by the creative team of Dalibor Talajić, Lee Loughridge, and Sal Cipriano is stunning. Altogether, a story understands the power of the anthology.

Story: John Lees Art: Dalibor Talajić, Lee Loughridge, and Sal Cipriano
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Advance Review: Kusama

Kusama

There is something uniquely wonderful and out of the ordinary about artists. They’re spirits as if they are butterflies just leaving their cocoon every time they create. Most who have never met artists never truly understand the creative process. I remembered watching a recent conversation with Kevin Costner where he talked about acting in general but also the creative process.

His description of the internal battles that an artist goes through to put out exceptional work was poignant. The ebb and flow in an artist’s brain is one that cannot be truly contextualized. As that is why most artists are called “mad” because the outside world cannot comprehend their way of thinking. In Elisa Macellari’s excellent Kusama, we meet Japan’s version of Van Gogh, a modern visionary whose dreamscapes the world only started to grasp.

We’re taken to 1939 Matsumoto, we meet a young Kusama, who is enjoying the outdoors. As her “third eye” is much more open to most as she hears voices within the flowers she lays next to, eventually even if the family dog starts talking to her. She understands instantly that it’s an out of body experience, she would start draw and paint so that she may be a vessel for her obsessions. And thus begins the vivid graphic biography of the Japanese icon. It charts her being embraced by the New York art scene in the 1960s and her eventual return home where she found further fame.

The graphic novel looks at the turmoil with her family and finding her voice in New York City where she signed her first contract with an art gallery. It also takes us through her art style as it grows and leads into what some consider “perverse,” leading to her experimentation in the 1960s and friendship with Andy Warhol. But, it’s her legacy the graphic novel leaves you with.

Overall, an excellent and ambitious retelling of this still enigmatic but important imaginative. The story by Elisa Macellari is hopeful and spectacular. The art by Macellari is gorgeous. Altogether a book that just scratches the surface why Kusama is so important aesthetics the world over.

Kusama is out in September 2020.

Story: Elisa Macellari Art: Elisa Macellari
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy was provided with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Amazon

Review: Hotell #2

Hotell #2

Jay and Mark Duplass are somewhat famous actors who have made their way into Hollywood through indie films. Many of their movies revel in character introspection and quiet moments. It can be sometimes an interesting ride in their movies while also being quite bizarre. One their first series on HBO, Togetherness, was a mix of what made them so magnetic while transitioning to the general audience’s more mainstream tastes.

Just when you think you know what to expect from the siblings, they introduce to the world of Room 104. It’s an anthology series which is part science fiction, part character study, and part horror. All depending on which episode you watched, and what goes on, each installment sought to tell something deeper. In the second issue of Hotell, the Pierrot Courts turn in another twisted tale

We are taken to the Pierre Courts Hotel, where a couple, Bobby and Muriel, are checking in this mysterious lodge. As Bobby is much older than Muriel, and is somewhat paranoid about their new respite, as the first thing that jumps out is a black bunny that follows them around. Out of the blue, Muriel is stricken by the wine Bobby brings, eventually dying a bloody messy death from it, something he had planned from the start. He cuts up her body into parts and dumps it in a pond nearby. By the issue’s end, Bobby gets his just due and Muriel lives another day.

Overall, a horror tale that deserves to be alongside anything on Shudder. The story by John Lees is skin-crawling. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a story that will creep you out.

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

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