Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Vudu Legends Vol. 1

Growing up a child of immigrants, the existence of evil spirits is something deeply embedded in both culture of my mother and my father. In the Filipino culture, the existence of evil spirits is as common as finding Filipinos who are Christians and most believe in both.  In the West Indian culture, there has always existed the Voodoo religion, which came over with some of the slaves, as it is was used to exorcise demons. Both cultures showed to me that although there’s good in the world, there is also evil.

That is why when I watched movies like the Exorcist and The Serpent and The Rainbow, these legends I heard from both side of my families, made those special effects real to me. As they were not fairy tales that were used to put us kids to sleep but actual warnings. As an adult now, and with all the skepticism in the world, I find my self-torn to believe these warnings from family and what I can actually prove. In Ashleigh Davenport’s VuDu Legends Volume 1, the reader is taken on a tour of the spiritual world of New Orleans.

In the opening pages, we meet Stephen, a man whose strong bond with an evil spirit, leads him to find a Damu, which is a person who has powers of healing and exorcism.  The reader gets to know this subculture, as there seems to be a few people who possess this power, Marie Laveau’s family being the most prominent. Stephen ends up finding them, Cassandra, KC and Momo, who definitely sense what is going on with him. By book’s end, Casandra ends up in a battle with the demon, ultimately winning, but a greater evil awaits them all.

Overall, an interesting take on the supernatural genre is explored with a new set of characters. The story by Davenport weaves the story well, introducing some very different concepts into the canon, absolutely making it better. The art by Michael Natividad brings together these otherworldly elements into breathtaking sequential art. Altogether, a great comic which will make you look at the supernatural genre in a wholly different way.

Story: Ashliegh Davenport Art: Michael Natividad
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Æther & Empire #2

When the movie, Inglorious Bastards, came out a few years ago, it reminded of those movies much like Seven Samurai and Dirty Dozen, where it focused on solely and man and purpose. In Seven Samurai, the protagonists were there to save a village which needed help from marauder invasions. In Dirty Dozen, these crew of roughnecks into a mass genocide of German Officers. In the aforementioned movie, their mission was more direct, they were there to kill Hitler.

Each of these examples, always showed a couple of men, who did not necessarily want to go on these missions/jobs, some had no choice, but each showed fortitude in their bravery nonetheless. Each of these characters all came to the realization, that doing something for someone else was bigger than they were was worth it. This grit is what make most members of the military serve especially when it is scary. In this episode of Aether & Empire, Captain Bristow andhis crew’s mettle is challenged as take on a dangerous missio.

Bristow and his crew return to London to a hero’ welcome but the upper echelon of the fleet is no only there to greet him but to entrust a new mission with his crew. He soon finds out about a secret mission in space, as a crew of scientists have stopped communicating with London, and he must escort another group of scientists to their space station. As the crews get acquainted with each other, a am awkwardness ensues between the two. By the end of the issue, the airship is closing on Mars, and even closer to finding out what happened to the first crew.

Overall, this issue mixes political intrigue with murder mystery in a story arc that is starting to remind of movies like Leviathan and The Thing. The story by Horan, is rife with suspense and makes the 19th century sound interesting. The art by Dazo, is beautiful. Altogether, an excellent issue, which only proves this creative tea is rewriting how an action adventure should play out.

Story: Mike Horan Art: Bong Ty Dazo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Love From the Shadows

I recently re-watched the gone too soon tv show, Terriers, which was on FX. For those who are unfamiliar, it is about a pair of private investigators, one ex-cop and ex-con, who undertake several different odd cases. The over-arching storyline reminded me of watching Robert Towne’s and Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown, about a mass conspiracy involving some big land barons and a bunch of coverups. This reminded of those old pulp novels I grew up reading some involving crime, some about deceit amongst individuals, but each story just as juicy as the other.

In comics, Ed Brubaker has been one of the individuals, who is also ardent about this genre as is evident in his books, Velvet and The Fade Out. Traces of the genre can also be seen in Jason Aaron’s underrated tome Scalped. Rarely have adaptations of some of the films have ever been undertaken, as a lot of these movies were gems and inspired movies like Far From Heaven. This lead me to Gilbert Hernandez’s (Love and Rockets) solo outing series of books, which explores Luba’s (character from Love and Rockets) sister, Fritz’s movies and one of the most prominent ones being, Love from The Shadows.

In this adaptation of this faux movie, Fritz portrays Dolores, a well to do woman who enjoys the lush life as the concubine of a supernatural scam artist. Eventually Dolores, is called home as her father’s health deteriorates and some old family wounds are reopened. A chance encounter leads her to the film business where she runs into a series of “abusive people”, which use her for their pleasure as a betrayal allows this descent. By book’s end, Dolores takes control of her situation and exacts revenge in the worst way.

Overall, an excellent story which proves that Hernandez is quite a cinephile capturing the tone and driving themes that were prominent in most of these movies, much like the Pam Grier movie, Coffy. The story by Hernandez, is lithe, complex, and entertaining. The art by Hernandez is reminiscent of his work on Love and Rockets but with few subtle differences. Altogether, a book that will give smiles and cringes, but will entertain nonetheless.

Story: Gilbert Hernandez Art: Gilbert Hernandez
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Love Debut

Being a child of the 1980s, I remember when love songs pretty much ruled the airwaves. There were a ton of songs that talked about all the aspects of relationships in all their glory as well as their uneven mess. Some were unflinchingly honest, like the classic song by Slick Rick, “Teenage Love”, which encapsulated the fluctuation of feelings when teenagers and hormone are involved. Then there were the songs that captured the mystery of love, like Paula Abdul’s “When opposites Attract”.

There were many things about that song that stood for anyone who has heard it, but for those who of us who have seen the music video, can attest, it was pretty entertaining, as it came a few years after Who Framed Roger Rabbit? What stood out for me, was also the messages the song was trying to convey, as no matter how many differences one can find not to be attracted to someone, sometimes nothing can resist that raw magnetic pull. Songs, books and moves these days like to intermingle these simple anecdotes about love and attraction with lust and sex often. So when I heard about Nika’s Love Debut, it gave me some hope that there were creators who reminisced about those same love songs.

In the opening pages, we are introduced to Nick Thomas, an aspiring musician and Sara Hoffman, a former child star, currently working as a waitress hoping no one would recognize her. What starts out as innocent interest in Sara’s welfare becomes an actual attraction to her, at first friendly but slowly but surely becomes a full-on love interest. In the meantime, they become interested in music together, leading them to becoming a band getting to know each other. By book’s end, our protagonists have shared more than either ever expected, which ultimately leads to love blooming.

Overall, a book that reminded me of that definitive Paul McCartney song, “Silly Love Songs”, as this book is as endearing as this song and even more moving in many ways. The story by Nika tackles a typical love story in the most unconventional of ways, putting most rom-coms to shame. The art by Nika is alluring and gorgeous. Altogether, a funny, beautiful love story that has already changed the game on how love stories should be told.

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

Review: Pride of the Decent Man

Redemption, is a hard road to travel for most people. Every person, whether they are inherently good or bad, tend to feel at some point, that they must pay for past mistakes. These things can haunt you for years and you may never gain the redemption you seek. The older we get, the more these things weigh on us and eventually become a burden.

For ex-convicts, this burden is an even heavier weight for one to carry as society doesn’t not even deem regular citizens. They usually have a harder time getting a job and don’t usually have the right to vote. Their reintroduction to normal life and to their families is another trial they suffer as well. In T.J. Kirsch’s Pride of the Decent Man, one such person endures a life where one wrong turn makes a him a convict and his life is forever changed.

In the opening pages, we meet Andrew, a young man growing up in a sleepy New England town to a toxic family. He often retreats to writing when his Dad gets angry but that doesn’t always protect him from being abused. He eventually gets in enough trouble to land himself in jail and as he is released years later, he finds out he has a daughter, which leads them to look for each other. By book’s end, what lead to him to jail comes full circle and one of them was not going to see tomorrow.

Overall, a great book, which leaves you heartbroken yet thankful for all the right steps you have taken. The story by T.J. Kirsch is beautiful and memorable. The art by Kirsch is eye catching and haunting. Altogether, a journey will leave you choked up as it makes you remember that for every right decision in life, there is also a right one.

Story: T.J. Kirsch Art: T.J. Kirsch
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Æther & Empire #1 Eternal Glory

There is something beautiful about the adventure, when anyone can go somewhere new and meet new people. This is exactly what makes the human spirit so endearing. It is why we have ventured into the great unknown for centuries and take those risks which may get us to meet our maker. For those who cannot go on these adventures, they tend to get lost in the books by Robert Louis Stevenson.

These are the books I used to read as kid as his stores about pirates and battles at sea, held hostage my imagination, where I would get lost in one of his books for days. I was not the only one who was entranced by his books, as others have written books inspired by and even taken on other interpretations of the same tales. Treasure Planet, being one of the more interesting takes on his books. So, when I heard Æther & Empire, it sounded like these books but with a steampunk twist.

In the first few pages, it is 1872, and the crew of the HMSS Nimbus, are under fire by a pirate ship. Soon after, both crews fight to the death, until a mysterious airship provides support, it is the HMSS Jules Verne, where we meet Captain Bristow, the captain of the HMSS Jules Verne, and his crew as they come to rescue the crew of the Nimbus and stop the siege. By issue’s end, an airship has gone missing and the higherups in London are sending the Jules Verne to find it.

Overall, an enthralling book which provides the reader wall to wall action, as it is very much like Master and Commander. The story by Mike Horan calls back to those swashbuckling adventures of 50s, with truly adventure at every turn. The art by Bong Ty Dazo is gorgeous and dazzles the eyes like few artists can do. Altogether, an excellent comic which leaves the reader wanting to know where the adventure takes them next.

Story: Mike Horan Art: Bong Ty Dazo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Yo Miss: A Graphic Look at High School

Growing up, going to school, in New York, I was fortunate to go to private school and public school, when most ids usually get the latter. When I came back from Living in Trinidad, my grandparents wanted me and my sister to go to one of the best schools. So, we went to the same Catholic school, that my cousins went to, where we went to regular classes and even ah to go to mass once a week. So, when my parents came to live with us in New York, they decided that I should go to public school.

Public school was a world away from what I saw at Catholic school, kids were the same, teachers and classes not so much. Most of the teachers did not care whether we learned nor cared to even show us who they are. There were only a handful of teachers at Catholic school and public school who cared. So, when I read Yo Miss! Lisa Wilde’s year as a public-school teacher at a charter school, she reminded of some of them.

We are introduced to Lisa, a teacher who see as hopeful as most teachers, to change the world and mold young minds. Her zeal for the work soon wanes as the reality of teaching kids are considered “second chance”, becomes quite arduous. Throughout her many trails over the year, she is reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou, “All great achievements require time”, where she finally sees her breaking through to the kids she teaches. By the end of the book and her year’s journey, Lisa changes her students and her students have evolved her.

Overall, an engaging book, where one might have thought to be a fish out of water story turns out to be an examination of how one can overcome misconceptions. The story by Wilde is funny, heartfelt and refreshingly honest.  The art by Wilde is throwback to the old school newspaper strips. Altogether, an charming memoir which will leave the reader both entertained and illuminated.

Story: Lisa Wilde Art: Lisa Wilde
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall:10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Metabarons Volume 3 Steelhead & Dona Vicenta

Being a child of the 1980s, I remember how obsessed the world was with the British Royal family. The world still is but not at the height of when Princess Diana was still alive. Not only the British tabloids were obsessed with the family but the world was as well. The fact that Diana, was not of royal blood, played into it, as initially it was a marriage of love.

Eventually thing went sour, between the two, but the obsession never really ended, as they pretty much made Prince Charles the villain and Diana he princess she was. Despite its tabloid nature and the fact, the royal family, is more symbolic, than possessing of actual power, shows a time in history when the people loved their rulers. This is something every ruler hopes those they rule over, feel. In the last volume of The Metabarons, we find a royal family in shambles, as their climb to build their empire back is an uphill battle.

In the opening pages, we find Aghnar and his mother, Honorata paying the ultimate price to end the fighting amongst the Pthugeran race, which despite their sacrifice, ended their race. Steelhead takes advantage to take over the crumbling empire, but not without the opposition of the las remaining royal families, the Rokhas. What follows is a romance between Lady Rokha and Steelhead, where she finds out her whole life is a lie. By book’s end, a final betrayal, to end the Metabarons, leaves the future uncertain at first, until a future is found.

Overall, the best book of the series thus far, as this iteration proves that Alejandro Jodorowsky knows how to handle melodrama and political intrigue in the same arena. The story by Jodorowsky is action packed and filled to the brim with powerful characters. The art by Juan Gimenez is gorgeous and could hang in any museum. Altogether, a first-rate installment that will have you clamoring for more of this universe.

Story: Alejandro Jodorowsky Art: Juan Gimenez
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Comichaus #8

I recently read in an article where they interviewed Charlie Adlard of Walking Dead fame with his thoughts on comics. He had been recently named, the United kingdom’s Comics laureate, an honor, which befuddles me why America has not adopted this title to honor our greatest comic creators. In the interview, what I felt most, was not only love of his craft, but his passion of comics. He even mentioned how the French, call comics, the “Ninth Art”.

The intrinsic value of comics, can only be seen by those understand what the medium yields. It is truly a convergence of storytelling and gorgeous art. In the eighth issue of ComicHaus, each creator exhibits this passion in full force. In this installment of Chalk, our heroes take on the Reaper only to land in a sanctuary that they did not see coming. In the latest installment of MIA, our heroines foil a terrorist plot but remain wanted by the police.

In this episode of Mandy, the Monster Hunter, she uncovers a underground cave filled with crystallized humans and even runs into the monster who looks to make a victim out of her as well. In the second part of Homeopathos, our protagonist gets caught in an existential dream that will change his life forever. In this installment of Cold, our heroine, finds out she has a knack for trouble finding her but she also finds out her paranoia is well founded. In Click, a man is reunited with his wife, in a probably the most extreme of cases.

Overall, an excellent issue, that proves ComicHaus is on top of their game. The stories are very well written. The art is gorgeous. Altogether, this issue proves this publishing house is not messing around.

Story: Steven Horry, Chris Robertson, Sambrook/Jones, Simon Birks, Marcello Bondi
Art: Catia Fantini, Richard MacRae, Gavin Fullerton, Lyndon White, Daniele Folegatti
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Everything is Flammable

Your relationship with your parents can be quite complex and is never straight forward as nay one wished it was.  In my personal experience, I have seen relationships where people are so alike their parents they don’t get along. There are the ones that are they total opposites, where they are pretty much each other’s best friends. Then there are the ones that are somewhere in between those roles, where the occupation of either parent or child is quite evident.

I know personally, in my relationships with both my parents, I have experienced all of these things, which leads to the complexity. This becomes more of a struggle once the child becomes an adult, as it becomes harder to decipher those boundaries. It becomes worst once you are both an adult and a parent, as some lessons your parents tried to teach you come full circle while others remain a mystery. In Gabrielle Bell’s Everything Is Flammable, the creator’s relationship with her mother is examined on top of life’s many challenges.

We meet the creator, shortly after getting the phone call, that her mother’s home has burned down, and she must go home in order to help her mother through picking up the pieces. What trips up Gabrielle, is that she also has to deal with money problems, anxiety, and her relationship with other people. Throughout the book, it is divided into chapters all seemingly chronological but expertly told, as we not only get to know the creator, but how her mother has shaped her into who she has become. By book’s end, the reader has taken a rather intimate peek into Gabrielle’s life, much like how the best documentaries pull you in.

Overall, an excellent book where the artist is not scared to be vulnerable, which is this tome was nothing but exquisite. The stories by Bell are relatable, sometimes hard to watch but ultimately leaves you rooting for her. The art by Bell feels very warm and intriguing. Altogether, a book that should be on everyone’s lap.

Story: Gabrielle Bell Art: Gabrielle Bell
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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