Author Archives: pharoahmiles

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Review: Ginseng Roots #3

Ginseng Roots #3

As a fan of Star Wars, what I loved about the books before Lucasfilm Story Group was that they filled those gaps. Many of the books that came between the original trilogy and when they were bought by Disney were monumental. As it brought to life those characters in ways not even the current canon has satisfied. My favorite being Heir To The Empire.

What I also loved were the comics that came from Dark Horse. One of the immensely heralded comics was Dawn Of The Jedi. As it introduced to first ones to be called as such, and how their pillars of faith came into being. As the book answered all those questions, us Star Wars nerds wanted to know.  In Ginseng Roots #3, Craig Thompson does the same, answering those questions about why the world has come to depend on this particular root for all its needs.

Thompson dives into the metaphysical origins of the root, introducing us to the # Sovereigns, in Chinese mythology, relaying the legend of Shennong and how the Father Of Medicine discovered its purpose. We also find out about “Ginseng Hunters:, who would  scavenge forests for this “God root”, as it enhance one’s own “Qi ( life force) . We also find Craig back home, enjoying all its comforts, as we get a front row seat at the International Ginseng Festival.  By issue’s end, Thompson gives us a concise history of the root and even gives a mini solo adventure, with his brother, Phil.

Overall, Ginseng Roots #3 is a special issue that educates the reader. The story by Thompson is genuine. The art by Thompson is outstanding. Altogether, Thompson gives the reader, a complete rundown of why this root is important.

Story: Craig Thompson Art: Craig Thompson
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Acursian Chapter 22

Acursian Chapter 22

What I love about alternate universe stories is how they show just how crazy things can get. If a protagonist makes a different choice, we’re taken down a different road. That is why most of us are fascinated with these alternate worlds. It’s a concept so pervasive that when you mention “Mirror Universe”, individuals who have never seen an episode will know you’re talking about Star Trek and the concept.

This makes sense why Star Trek Discovery, has utilized it within its first 2 seasons. It gives us a different look and version of a character we have grown accustomed to. It presents possibilities which intrigues the most.  In Acursian Chapter 22, we find Rory discovering the life he could have had.

We open up on Charlie and Corra arriving at the Isle of Shadows, where Nate is tending to Corra’s sisters, who are being affected by the loss of the necklace.  This pushes the three to take drastic measures so that Charlie can get Ceillech’s orb and Corra can save her sisters. We also find Bregon and Rory at Charlie’s ancestral home. Where a skirmish breaks out between the two and Rory grabs the staff. By the issue’s end, Rory uses the staff to get back to Charlie .

Overall, Acursian Chapter 22 is a great entry that gives the protagonist a bit of humanity. The story by the creative team is satisfying. The art by the creative team is pleasing to the eye. Altogether, the story spurs the imagination.

Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and  Tommy Lee Edwards
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1

Margaret Atwood is one of those writers who can both spellbind you and terrify you at the very same time. Her prose feels so voyeuristic, you feel kind of guilty even reading one of her powerful tomes. For the world seems to mostly have found The Handmaid’s Tale, through the TV series, it only sees a sliver of her genius. The connecting theme amongst her books, among many, is the breadth of a woman’s agency in the world.

As she has written books in several different timelines, evoking a woman’s struggles much in the way Philippa Gregory does in her books. It is her narrative that compels you to look but cringe in ways you could never imagine. The reality is, even though she writes fiction, does not mean, she doesn’t tell truth. In Stephen King and Owen King’s graphic novel adaptation of their hit book, Sleeping Beauties, we get a grim dystopia, much what Atwood, writes where one woman becomes an outlier.

We are taken to a future where a malady has made a lot of the female population to fall asleep because of a disease called Aurora, except one, who says her name is Eve and who lives in the woods by a town called Dooling. As she awakens and wanders, we find the town has a penitentiary and has its own share of troubles, as she happens upon a house, and kills all the men who live there. Meanwhile, even more cases start popping all across the world, the most prominent in Australia, as the town starts getting flooded by everything natural including insects and animals become suddenly supernatural, a seeming harbinger of worst things to come. The sheriff eventually arrest Eve and brings her to the prison, where things on the outside only get worse, riots escalate, and increasingly, women all around the world including Dooling unconsciously turn into homicidal killers, attacking men everywhere. Eventually, militias rise up, blowtorching any trace of Aurora, even if it means lives. BY volume’s end, Eve reveals she is immune and can end all the chaos while some desperate locals look to end things by their own means.

Overall, Sleeping Beauties Vol. 1 is an impressive story that has echoes of the panic that has occurred during our pandemic but reveals a much grimmer future. The story by the Kings is truly rapturous. The art of the creative team is awe-inspiring. The adaptation is some of the best work I have seen in a long time. Altogether, this adaptation of this modern classic is a game-changer.

Story: Stephen King and Owen King Adaptation: Rio Youers
Art: Alison Sampson, Annie Wu,  Jenn Woodall Christa Miesner, Valerie Lopez, and Triona Tree  Farrell
Story: 10 Adaptation: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Usagi Yojimbo: Homecoming

Usagi Yojimbo: Homecoming

For those of us who live far away from where we were born, going back home can be a surreal experience. As we get older, we often have feelings of trepidation and nostalgia when something reminds us of that place. Many memories of why you left home in the first place are part of that internal consternation. We also are reminded of the things and people who are only in that place you came from.

Every time I have been home to New York I’m reminded of growing up there including both good memories and bad memories. I still call it home, even after being away from it for 25 years. What holds true is that every time you go back it feels different every single time. In Usagi Yojimbo: Homecoming, our protagonist goes home but to some unexpected reactions.

In “Tatami”, we find Usagi going back home to the North Province of Tatami, a place he had not been for a very long time, and he is flooded by memories of why he left in the first place, and where he and Chizu protect a valuable transport for the Lord who killed his master, a journey the Neko Ninja Clan looks to foil, but not without a fight from our protagonist, Chizu, and the vassals. In “Mon”, Usagi meets resistance in Tatami and finds trouble in those still bitter from a war long ago, where Usagi lets them meet their ends. In the last story“ The Return”, we find Usagi soon after he defeats the samurai in Tatami, where he ends in his home village and meets some old friends, but their reunion is cut short, when a band of ronin looks to avenge their master, but not before Usagi, his Sensei, and his friends defend their homes.

Overall, Usagi Yojimbo: Homecoming is an excellent collection of stories that proves Sakai still has many tales to tell. The stories by Sakai are exciting. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, this set of tales proves why everyone should read Usagi Yojimbo.

Story: Stan Sakai Art: Stan Sakai, Shawn Lee, Tom Luth, and Peach Momoko
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Acursian Chapter 21

Acursian Chapter 20

Playing cards is a skill that most people don’t quite master. As with most games, it’s all about reading people. “Reading” your opponent remains the most important aspect in the way you play. We see it all the time, in football, where teams game plan for weeks on end.

In card games, you plan your game as you go. That is why it is always interesting to watch when someone overplays their hand. It is definitely devastating to the player. In Acursian Chapter 21, we find Charlie underestimating one such adversary.

We open up on Charlie and Alison entering the Witches Realm, which they soon find out is a trap and Charlie comes up short on what he promised Flora.  We also find Corra and Nate as they are holding a rendezvous with Alba, who holds their mother, and where Nate lets her know that Bregon has an ulterior motive. We also find Bregon and Rory looking for the talismans in the 16th century, at Charlie’s ancestral home. By the issue’s end, Charlie and Corra figure out the next steps after Flora holds Alison as a prisoner, maybe even taking desperate measures.

Overall, Acursian Chapter 21 is an action-packed entry in the series that raises the stakes. The story by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis is enjoyable. The art by Beni Lobel and  Tommy Lee Edwards is elegant. Altogether, it’s a story that puts our protagonist on notice.

Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and  Tommy Lee Edwards
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Acursian Chapter 20

Acursian Chapter 20

The show Game Of Thrones is one that explores family dynamics in its most palatial settings. We saw how each of the major houses dealt with the “black sheep”. None were as more gracious than the Starks. Ned not only took in his sister’s son but also the ward of an enemy.

We also saw how certain houses, like the Lannisters, dealt with the favoritism of certain siblings. The favoritism of the Twins made the family dynamic highly unstable and grew resentment amongst the siblings. Tyrion proved to be not only the smartest character but also the most noble. In the Acursian Chapter 20, we find Bregon and Rory giving the reader two versions of “bad seeds”.

We open up on Nate, as he soon finds out just what kind of power Albion had been enjoying, as he revels in a state of euphoria. We’re also taken to the 18th Century, to the Isle of Coll where Bregon is explaining to Rory exactly why he was taken and unveiling his master plan. By the issue’s end, Charlie tries to go it alone, but Alison makes it that she comes along, leaving Rory to possibly lose both parents.

Overall, Acursian Chapter 20 a fun entry in the webcomic series that shows how dense the world-building is. The story by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis is pleasing. The art by Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards is gorgeous. Altogether, the story adds a few more screws to its protagonists.

Story: John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis Art: Beni Lobel and Tommy Lee Edwards
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Gift

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Gift

With age comes perspective. It’s a gift that often feels like a curse. The rumination that age brings has one often recounting their past actions. It’s easy to discount those actions we did when were young. We often point to youth and inexperience as the pillars for making mistakes.

The actions we undertake when we get older become less forgiving. The experience of life gives you the intuition to not make the usual mistakes. It is when we do, that the person finds themselves at odds with themselves in the quietest moments of reflection.  In the one-shot, Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Gift, Q himself, John De Lancie writes this magnificent story which finds Picard correcting past mistakes with consequences.

We find Riker as he approaches Picard, who is reminiscing of something that happened long ago, as the rest of the crew enjoys a command party. Picard is soon summoned to the bridge, where a disturbance that then Enterprise is approaching, which has a strange physiological effect on him, as we soon find out that Q is behind it all, appearing as a circus showman to the crew. As Q takes a particular fact about Jean-Luc and decides to take him on an excursion to the past, 2332 to be exact, back to his childhood home. As we find out in this time, his parents are still alive and he meets a younger version of himself and looks to playfully torture him along the way. Meanwhile, the crew tries to figure where the two have gone, where Data finds the first clue. As every choice Jean –Luc makes in the past, affects pivotal details in the present, affecting the crew and the federation, as he tries to save his brother. By the issue’s end, Jean-Luc eventually realizes that even if he can change the past, not everything is meant to be corrected.

Overall, Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Gift is a fun recreation of a classic story that gives a unique take on the butterfly effect. The story De Lancie and Michael Jan Friedman is excellent. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, an excellent issue that captures the spirit of the show and shows why De Lancie’s Q is such a fan favorite.

Story: John De Lancie and Michael Jan Friedman
Art: Gordon Purcell, Pablo Marcos, Bob Pinaha, and Juliana  Ferriter
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1

Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1

Nicholas Cage is one of those actors whose films have given him iconic status. In each role, he has not only proven his talent but has made each character incredibly indelible. I remember the first time I saw him, it was in Moonstruck, as the brother of her fiancee whom she falls in love with. Every film after that would just add to his legend.

Cage has touched every film genre and is such a chameleon, that people often identify with certain roles. He can play someone meek, like his character in The Rock. Then there is devil may care character he played in Drive Angry where his character came back from hell to save his daughter. In a rare crossover between two of comics most imaginative universes, Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1 begins Mary Locke’s adventure to do anything to save her brother’s soul.

The comic features a prelude in how Jack got lost in Hell, but we’re taken to 1927 Wych Cross, England, where Mary has just been summoned from study abroad in the United States. A strange rich royal, Roderick Burgess, has summoned her back home to recreate one of her late father’s inventions. His offers her a way to get back her brother Jack. We soon find out he has Dream captured in his basement and leads Mary to take on some extraordinary measures and finesse her way through the House of Mystery. By the issue’s end, Mary might have found the back door to Hell, but what is on the other side she might not be ready for.

Overall, Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1 is an excellent debut issue, which highlights why everyone loves both franchises. The story by Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman is both dour and fascinating. The art by Gabriel Rodriguez, Jay Fotos, and Shawn Lee is astounding. Altogether, the debut issue is an exhilarating trip “down the rabbit hole”. It’s one that enchants and frights.

Story: Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman Art: Gabriel Rodriguez, Jay Fotos, and Shawn Lee
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Usagi Yojimbo Origins Vol. 1

Usagi Yojimbo Origins Vol. 1

When it comes to the early days of superheroes, fans love to find out how those characters’ nuances first came to be. That’s why Smallville was so indelible. It gave fans a view of how Kal-El eventually became Superman. The show focused not only how he discovered himself but also how his loved ones molded him. It also showed those trials and tribulations where they found their inner strength.

The show changed the narrative in many ways. We found out Clark and Lex were actually best friends before they became mortal enemies. The audience got to enjoy the journey while appreciating the fact that we know where he is going. In Usagi Yojimbo: Origins Vol. 1, we get a collection of stories of how this sword for hire came to be.

In “Samurai”, we meet Usagi’s teacher Katsuichi-Sensei. Katsuichi-Sensei trains him in the way of the Samurai and Usagi moves up the ranks under Lord Mifune quickly, before his untimely death and because of a friend’s betrayal. “Kappa” has Usagi saving a man from a water monster ad incidentally runs into his dead mother. In “Quiet Meal”, Usagi makes quick waste of a bunch of drunkards starting trouble. “Blind Swords Pig” features Usagi running into Zato, a blind outlaw, which eventually ends in a duel between the two swordsmen. In the final tale, “Lone Rabbit and Child”, Usagi takes a job to protect a young heir and his guardian, long enough to be installed as the head of his clan.

Overall, Usagi Yojimbo Origins Vol. 1 is an engaging powerful origin story which shows just how skilled Stan Sakai is, as a storyteller. The stories by Sakai are fun and gripping. The art by Stan Sakai and Ronda Pattison is awe-inspiring. Altogether, a set of stories that give excellent insight into what makes Sakai’s protagonist, still so magnetic to readers.

Story: Stan Sakai Art: Stan Sakai and Ronda Pattison
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: The Shadow of a Man

The Shadow of a Man

There are few movies in the stratosphere that speaks to certain times in peoples’ lives that words could not find.  I remembered the first time I watched Full Metal Jacket, it did not dawn on me how true those boot camp scenes were until I went through it myself. As the stripping away of being an individual, is certainly acute almost immediately. Then there are those movies that you never knew was you until you see it.

One such movie is Under The Tuscan Sun. As the movie followed a woman as she rediscovers herself shortly after her marriage falls apart. It through her discovery, that we identify those unfettered strings of ourselves. In the fourth volume of the Obscure Cities series, The Shadow Of  A Man, we find our protagonist spiraling out of control, looking for direction wherever the light hits him.

We find the newly married Albert Chamisso, as he spends restless night after night, waking his wife at odd hours of the night, and spends anxious days an insurance adjustor. Eventually his “ night terrors “ would lead to full on paranoia and to the dissolution of his marriage. He would eventually move out of his luxury apartment, and to a remote part of the city, where he would meet a mysterious young woman, Minna. By book’s end,  Minna becomes his conduit for what becomes of his dreams, allowing to finally fall in love.

The Shadow Of  A Man is a disjointed tale that feels as though as it loses a lot in translation. The story by Benoit Peeters is lucid yet endearing. The art by Francois Schuiten is utterly beautiful. Altogether, it’s a story that feels like a connection of dreams that the reader can barely keep up with.

Story: Benoit Peeters Art: Francois Schuiten Translation: Stephen Smith
Story: 6.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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