Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Katrina Hates the Dead

KATRINA HATES THE DEAD

Like most kids growing up, I dreaded reading books off our summer reading list. There were some gems, like The Outsiders and Animal Farm, both books I got in to almost right away. Then there are books which took me some time to fall for like The Invisible Man. I’ve re-read that book after gaining some perspective and it’s one of my favorite books of all time now. Another book, that took me some time to become enamored with was Paradise Lost.

It’s an epic a story as about the bitter battle for the control of humankind’s destiny. It takes place across heaven, hell, and Earth with many players. The story has had its share of imitators over the years, but very few has taken a unique approach to it. One of the retellings that feel original is Russell Nohelty’s Katrina Hates The Dead.

In this world, a rift to Hell has opened, which allowed demons to come through and inhabit earth, with some of those creatures even domesticating the suburbs. A couple of years have passed, and one monster hunter, Katrina, whose friends, Connie nearly dies and Dennis who dies because of the contagen, as she must get to hell to have them both, with Cerebrus’s babies hot on their trail. Soon they must drive across the desert to while uprooting a war amongst the demons in the process.  Once they arrive in Hell, they must find Satan to end the Apocalypse, with some assistance from a few friends.

Overall, the comic is a thrilling retelling of Milton’s classic work with a few twists and some really big swords. The story by Nohelty is layered, entertaining and action packed. The art by Juan Frigeri, Fernando Melek, Tom Bacon and Bernie Le is breathtaking and vivid. Altogether, it’s a new school Thelma and Louise story but with demons and world saving.

Story: Russell Nohelty
Art: Juan Frigeri, Fernando Melek, Tom Bacon,
and Bernie Lee
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Trinidad #1: Cold Call

Trinidad #1: Cold Call

One of the best movies of 2018, was Sorry To Bother You. The movie shined a light on big business, code switching, and the everyday struggle, but also on the much-maligned occupation of cold caller.  It highlighted just how bad these men and women are treated. I can honestly say I have hung up on a few cold callers who would mess up my name.

The movie touched on many controversial subjects while blending many science fiction tropes and cultural epitaphs. It made this otherwise forgettable job relatable. We always forget that they’re people too, doing a job to pay their bills. In Trinidad#1: Cold Call, we sit through a day as one cold caller is looking to make it until her shift is over.

We meet Trinidad, on her first day at her new job and gets acclimated to its extremely busy atmosphere. As she sees that many of her coworkers either read from a script or try to relate with their customers. As she looks at her call list, the only thing on her mind, is to not ruin her first call. By issue’s end, her proclivities get the best of her to amusing results.

Overall, it’s an interesting story that shows both the demand of a job dealing with so many customers and the relatability of those who do it. The story by Trinidad Escobar is hilarious and refreshing. The art by Escobar is vivid and sophisticated. Altogether, an excellent comic book which will leave readers in stitches.

Story: Trinidad Escobar Art: Trinidad Escobar
Story: 10 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Hawk of New York #1

The Hawk of New York #1

King Arthur is one of those stories that evokes a time and place so long ago but yet so close. The story of King Arthur, shows the reader that anyone can be anything. Your path is not necessarily predetermined, no matter your circumstances. Arthur never knew he was royalty but that didn’t change who he was or the quality of his character.

One of my favorite retellings of the legend was a show called Camelot. It lasted one season and featured a few changes when it came to all the familiar characters. What I took away from the story is that only you can write your own story. In the first issue of The Hawk Of New York, we meet a protagonist who doesn’t quite understand who he is yet but outside forces look to change that.

We meet Eric Warden, a half-blooded Native American who grew up in an orphanage in upstate New York. As he struggles with living conditions, he also has an innate sense of he is but with no guidance, is left to wonder what it all means.  As strange occurrences happen throughout the school where he goes to, he starts to wonder if anything that occurs is because of him. By issue’s end, strange forces start to gather and Eric has no idea what is coming his way.

Overall, it’s an interesting introduction to this world and these characters. The story by Randyl Bishop is evenly paced and action packed. The art by Bishop shows some intricate pencil work throughout. Altogether, a good debut which will pull readers into this series that is more than meets the eye.

Story: Randyl Bishop Art: Randyl Bishop
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Bruhas

Bruhas

Mythology allows the world to tells its story through legends, gods, goddesses, and monsters. The world has always celebrated mythology in some for or another. When people usually think of “mythology,” a thought that comes up, is that it’s not real. Some stories are told as warnings not just for children but for adults.

One such country is the Philippines, which has its own sets of monsters, angels, gods and goddesses, and an expansive pantheon of heroes.  In Bruhas, cartoonist, Trinidad Escobar brings to life, many of these creatures from Filipino mythology.

One of the first monsters is, “Manananggal,” a monster who looks human by day, but becomes a monster by night, feeding on travelers and unborn babies. Another monster is a “Siocoy,” a troll or elf with black shiny skin, which resembles an orc, who lives near rivers as Filipino children are told to stay away from water during the dry season. One monster I used to hear my grandparents talk about is the “Mumu,” which are ghosts as we were warned as children to “pag-pag,” which means to lead them somewhere else. Then there is the “Sirena,” which are water protectors, much like mermaids, and depending on which story, may even be like sirens. There is the “Tikbalang,” who are fierce proectors of holy places and they may escort to the afterlife. There is “Manananem,” who are also known as “bruhas” or witches who possess mystical knowledge which they use over humans. One of my favorites, is the “Lutao,” which are one of the many different types of zombies, which are known to scrape their way out of their graves. The last one I will highlight, is the “mandarangkal,” a bloodsucker, or vampire who seduces men and devours them whole.

Overall, this book is a welcome addition to any household. The world is full of stories and learning about this mythology and folklore only enriches one’s self. The mythology as told by Escobar is relatable and entertaining. The art by Escobar is beautiful and awe-inspiring. Altogether, as Escobar eloquently says in her preface, this serves an excellent grimoire or bestiary, to understand such a diverse lore.

Story: Trinidad Escobar Art: Trinidad Escobar
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: A Knight in Kansas City #2

A Knight in Kansas City #2

When we think of a cult, we’re used to situations mostly revolving around ones that sprouted up around an ideal, a person, or a religion. Many of them are harmless and a good number of them have become a circus, both good and bad, in some ways.

After watching Surviving R.Kelly over the past few nights, it has given me a different view of what a cult is. The show itself, started off as an examination of the many rumors about Kelly’s sexual proclivities and his “harem”. What became apparent throughout the series is that it was more than rumors,and what happened in his inner circle,was both disgusting and should be considered “sex slavery”. The rules, conditions, and power dynamics that were imposed on these women shined a light on the devaluation of black women that were not seen in the public eye as it should have been.  The reality is who knows what disgusting details could have been left.

In the second issue of A Knight In Kansas City, Kay’s investigation into a cult gets deeper and fatal for some.

As Kay searches for answers, she stumbles upon a boy whose mother was deep into the cult and may lead her to the answers she is looking for. What she finds in her search is a mysterious videotape, which exposes the dirty secrets the Knights have been hiding and what it could mean to the city. Kay gets motivated by the venom of the propaganda to confront Brother Willem and the rest of hierarchy at the Knights headquarters.

Overall, it’s an engaging second issue that gives the story a bit of a jolt that keeps reader interested. The story by
Daniel Gargallo and Sam Kramer is full of pulp, action packed and scintillating. The art by Luana Vecchio and Mike Stock is intense and elegant. Altogether, it’s a fine sophomore episode of this story, one that adds even more mystery to this pot boiler.

Story: Daniel Gargallo and Sam Kramer
Art: Luana Vecchio and Mike Stock
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Twelve Devils Dancing Vol. 1

Twelve Devils Dancing

There is something so alluring to crime procedural dramas, that despite the gruesome details, you still want to see it to the end. This why Law & Order lasted so many years and why its offshoots have prospered. It also has generated an industry which has become fixated with its real-life true crime. Humanity’s obsession with the darker recesses of our minds is both peculiar and enthralling.

This is why the show The Following. was so magnetic. There was the strong performances of Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy and their undeniable chemistry. The show revolved around a recently escaped serial killer who creates a community to carry out random killings while toying with the retired special agent who put him in jail in the first place. The show does what good horror stories do make you uncomfortable while keeping you glued to the television. In Action Labs: Danger Zone‘s brilliant Twelve Devils Dancingwe get one such story where an FBI agent must correct his past mistakes.

We meet Callum Cooper, an FBI agent who has gotten a diagnosis that he is dying of a fatal disease one that derails his career permanently. Of course, this news doesn’t come at the perfect time as he has been chasing a serial murderer known as the Crypto Killer. The killer has started to leave “presents” for Callum’s attention which also draws in an innocent bystander Aisha Miller, a college student who is trying to escape her demons but decides to help.

Overall, the comic series is a penetrating thriller that will make the reader unsettled. The story by Erica Schultz is chilling, discerning, and well developed. The art by Dave Acosta, Andrew Covalt, and Kelly Williams is gorgeous. Altogether, a crime procedural that belongs in the great canon of murder mysteries.

Story: Erica Schultz
Art: Dave Acosta, Andrew Covalt, and Kelly Williams
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life

Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life

I remember the first time I fell in love with a screen icon. It seems as though red-blooded male I knew, knew that they loved women from that first sight. One of my friends from work talked about this very instance he has with all three of his sons. They were watching a trailer for the Justice League movie and the moment they saw Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, they all had a big grin across their faces, as they all felt those proverbial butterflies about the same woman.

My first onscreen crush was Brooke Shields. I remember seeing her in the Blue Lagoon and being “smitten” with those sea blue eyes. Since then, I had a few, and even some from yesteryear, one of them being Hedy Lamarr. I remember the first time I saw her, it was in Samson and Delilah. She played the titular female protagonist and she captivated my attention the whole film. So, when I heard that there was a graphic biography of the film icon, Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life, I was definitely interested.

We first meet Hedy, when she was 5 years old, growing up in Vienna, as her father becomes the person who stoked her interest in understanding how everything works, including cars and lights, which will start a lifelong interest in inventions. As she became a teenager, soon her interests were enthralled by the movies, and soon she pursued a career in movies, working behind the scenes, until a casting director saw her, and put her in her first film. Unfortunately, her career would be derailed, as she gets herself in an unhappy marriage, the death of her father, and growing presence of the Nazi regime in Austria, pushes her to pursue her dreams in Hollywood. As her star brightens, she begins to catch the attention of many Hollywood luminaries, everyone from Howard Hughes to Errol Flynn, while the situation in Austria, begins to get more dangerous, she works to get her mother with her in America. By book’s end, one of her inventions, the wireless network, becomes a trailblazing idea, which has changed the world, and has made he world take notice that she was more than the most beautiful woman in the world, but also one of the smartest people on the globe.

Overall, Hedy Lamarr is the true personification of “beauty and brains,” as she not only marveled the world with her presence but changed the world with her mind. The story by William Roy is riveting, evenly paced, and articulate. The art by Sylvain Dorange is ethereal and vivid. Altogether, a life story that shows despite how much people underestimate you you are more than the sum of your parts.

Story: William Roy Art: Sylvain Dorange
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Djinn Vol. 13: Kim Nelson

Djinn Vol. 13: Kim Nelson

When a story ends, we rarely ask ourselves why the protagonist started their journey in the first place. Yes, we get caught up in the action, or the series of interactions, which pushes the story forward. Do we ever ask, why did they agree to it? One of those characters is Peter Quill, the de facto leader of the Guardians Of The Galaxy.

I am particularly referring to the movie origin that fans have come to know. The character was taken by space pirates right when his mother is on her death bed. Anytime after his abduction he could have rebelled against Yondu, found ways to escape. But he persevered and adapted and became Star Lord.

In the final volume of Djinn, we find out the circumstances that lead Kim Nelson from India to Africa and back again, back to the cursed child princess of Eschinapur, to fulfill a vow made by the elusive Djinn, Jade. Kim truly comes into her own, assuming her power as a temptress in the name of justice and vengeance… vengeance always cruel, but always sweet…

The volume is full of villainy with double crosses, hidden treasure, death and destiny. Overall, it’s an engaging final volume that more than lives up to the expectations from everything building to this pint. The creative team has put together a grand finale. The story by Jean Dufaux is action packed, emotional, and ultimately, satisfying. The art by Ana Miralles is graceful and luminous. Altogether, it’s a story no reader will ever forget and will want to re-read from the beginning.

Story: Jean Dufaux Art: Ana Miralles
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blake & Mortimer Vol. 6: S.O.S Meteors

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 6: S.O.S Meteors

If you were born in the 20th century, you were treated to some of best acting performances of all time. There were actors that are once in a generation. Some of my favorite actors of all time, are no longer with us, like John Candy and Raul Julia. One of those actors made the world smile while the other actor made the world feel.

Another actor, who is still with us, but is more retired than working these days, is Sean Connery. He’s probably best known for his time as James Bond. One of his best movies of all time, one in which he plays an older maverick, is The Hunt For Red October. Then there are some of his not so great movies, like The Avengers, where he played Sir August De Wynter who plans to take over the world with a climate changing machine. In the sixth volume of Blake and Mortimer, our heroes are fighting a climatic threat, one that is obliterating Europe.

We catch up with Professor Mortimer, as he is in Paris, to figure what is causing the atmospheric disruptions when he notices the inordinate amount of rain, affecting transportation, and in effect causing accidents. Meanwhile, Blake is following a case surrounding a mysterious network which lead him to Paris as well. We soon find out that an old foe came out of hiding, as he has joined forces with some French gangsters and a mad scientist, to take control of Western Europe.

Overall, this volume is an engaging story that shows even the most over the top plots can by executed perfectly in the right hands. The story by Edgar P. Jacobs is action packed and funny. The art by Jacobs is alluring.  Altogether Jacobs proves he can tell a story that both well developed and entertaining.

Story: Edgar P. Jacobs Art: Edgar P. Jacobs
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Pharoah Miles’ Favorite Books of 2018

Marvel's Black Panther: A Comic Book Biography

Marvel’s Black Panther: A Comic Book Biography – In what is part analysis, part love letter and part essay what culminates to be a brilliant dissection of this epic character.

A Study in Emerald – Neil Gaiman and his collaborators remix Lovecraft with some help from Sherlock and Holmes in this captivating mystery with a touch of the supernatural.

Thrawn: Alliances – Timothy Zahn continues the story of Thrawn in this tale which finds him teaming up with Darth Vader, his rival for the attention of the Emperor, to investigate a threat may mean doom for the Empire.

Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History

Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History – In what could have been fodder for fans of this film franchise, we get the ultimate book about every film, from behind the scenes stories , including replications of scene sketches, to even press photos.

Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History – In this major compendium, fans get a history both visual and prose that pulls readers even if they’re not fans into a story more interesting than the fictional story it is connected to.

Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) – George RR Martin gives fans the complete history of the Targaryens, as this book explores legends only talked about in the other books and the television show, and finally separates myth from fact in this fictional world.

Children of Blood and Bone – In what feels like Star Wars and Harry Potter came together in a glorious alchemy and was set in an African setting, is what Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel beautifully commences this saga

DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman

DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman – In what is essentially Batman’s blueprint for every Metahuman, we get a forensic look at some beloved and not so beloved characters.

Dread Nation – In a book which is both alternate and revisionist history in a dystopian setting filled with zombies, Justina Ireland, every page crackles with twists and turns that breeds new blood in the zombie genre and a female POC protagonist more badass than any on television.

Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion – In another guide to a pop culture phenomenon, we get a behinds the scenes look of the first two seasons of this epic show.

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