Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Bitter Root #1

One of the most underrated filmmakers of all time is Mario Van Peebles. His movies both entertain and provoke thought. New Jack City brought the world to the inner city and made it face the crack dilemma. Panther told the story of the Black Panthers through a rather unique perspective. Then there is the movie which I consider his best, Baadasssss, about his father’s monumental film that started the conversation of what Black people would like to see in theaters.

His movies filled a space where people rarely saw themselves on screen. The films sometimes were based on real life and sometimes delved into other genres where he made sure to change the game. He challenged the trope that black people usually died in fantasy and horror films by making them the heroes. His most recent show on Syfy, Superstition, revolved around a demon hunting family in New Orleans. This last foray into television yielded mixed results. It lacked a few things but was an exceptional concept. In the first issue of David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene’s Bitter Root, the promise shown in that show is fully realized in a similar concept with a few twists.

We are transported to 1920s Harlem where a young couple is killed by mysterious circumstances. In the comic we meet the Sangerye family, a group of demon hunters whose purpose is to protect New York and cancel the apocalypse. We also meet Doctor Sylvester who is searching for a serum to control his supernatural condition. The Sangeryes may be his only hope.

Overall, the first issue is an excellent debut that unfolds like Dirty Dozen meets the Italian Job where one badass family is about to save the world.  The story by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown is action packed, epic, smart, funny and challenges just about every supernatural trope. The art by Sanford Greene is stunning and luminous. Altogether, one of the best books to come from Image in a while, one that already has changed the game.

Story: David F. Walker and Chuck Brown Art: Sanford Greene
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Zahra: The Shadow Flame #1

Families usually hide family secrets like hidden treasures, as some of those secrets were hidden for a reason in the first place. As when family members find out the truth behind what they considered facts, one of two feelings usually overwhelm the individual. The first one is genuine surprise, where you get overwhelmed with the novelty of the news. The second and most probable reaction, is betrayal, as they feel the need to lie to the family members for some unforeseen reasons.

In real life, Jack Nicholson, found out that the woman he thought was his sister, was actually his mother. This very story was told on a current storyline in the new show, Mayans MC, where one of the club members finally reveals to a girl who was raised as his sister, to be his daughter. Some family secrets are sometimes too much for those affected to ever know. In the debut issue of Zahra The Shadow Flame, we find one young lady coming to grips with what she just found about who she will become and her family’s powers.

We meet Zahra Darwesh, a young lady, who has a rather unusual but mystical connection to fire, as she can manipulate flames like most people can bend straws, as she belongs to a long family line of powerful women with powers known as the Birthweepers. As the only child of a council member in a mythical country called United Arabia, as she struggles with being a teenage girl and hiding the secret of her powers. One day, a fire ignites at her school causing Zahra to leap into action, saving hundreds of girls, but catching the eye of local authorities. By issue’s end, the secrets her and her mother holds, destroys her family, revealing a loved one to be the true villain of the story and that her journey to self-discovery is only beginning.

Overall, an engaging story that reveals the dangers of anachronistic beliefs, the changing roles of power when it comes to gender and embracing who you really are is the only truth. The story by Baker-Johnson and Sindi, is full of twists, layered and action packed. The art by Tinto and Montrose, is gorgeous. Altogether, a stark and fresh take on the superhero origin story, one which is emblematic of the evils of sexism and that heroism is not only for those wearing capes.

Story: Kali Baker-Johnson and Rakan Sindi Art: Davide Tinto and Michelle Montrose
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Comedian

Art is truly a therapeutic escape for anyone who indulges in it on a regular basis. One can escape from their everyday worries through the venues of literature, music or even art.  It is one thing to be a consumer of these mediums, it is wholly different to participate. When one makes their own, it becomes something so intimate, powerful and gives that person a sense of their own destiny.

This is what made watching Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, such an introspective look into what makes an artist and how does one start such a journey. In this story, a homemaker finds out her husband is cheating, decides to begin a career as a standup comic.  This is why life is more than work, as you need to find time to smell the flowers, and sometimes, you need to find yourself in the most unexpected places. In The Comedian, Khalid Nahar, give the reader somebody much like Midge Maisel, but in Amman, Jordan.

In the opening pages, we meet Fareed, a man who is considering ending his life, as his home life is in disarray and his job pretty much sucks. This changes when a work colleague gives Fareed a flyer for an open mic comedy night, at the local comedy club, one which may change his life, and one he did not know he longed for, until his drive home. Weeks later, he finds that same flyer, finds an old book of his jokes from college and decides to take a chance, on the open mic. His first time was rough but ignites his creative passion and a lust for the stage. As his mood changes, so does his relationship with his wife and so does his comedy routine. In fact, his whole life becomes better. His wife eventually finds out where he goes every Saturday night and is there for one of his routines, where he compares her to a truck. By book’s end, an accident leads to someone close to Fareed not surviving and to a shocking final scene.

Overall, an excellent comic which examines the solace of the mundane and the promise of dreams unfulfilled. The story by Nahar, is smart, funny, engaging, and heartfelt. The art by Nahar is simply beautiful. Altogether, an impressive debut book by this more than capable storyteller.

Story: Khalid Nahar Art: Khalid Nahar
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Grayhat #2

“Vengeance Is Mine saith the Lord” is one of the most iconic lines in movie history. These words uttered by the effortlessly talented Samuel L. Jackson is of course not in the bible at all, but still showcases what type of man his character was within the story, a ruthless killer with no remorse. Rarely do these characters do anything because of a set of morals, but because they were hired to do a job. Characters like Denzel Washington’s Robert Moses in The Equalizer movies are the rare exception.

In those movies, Robert Moses, is a man of principle and one who uses his special set of skills for those who harm those close to him. In the first movie, he went after a mob who trafficked young girls.  In the second movie, he went after the people who killed his friend. These are the characters most people find boring, but really it is a bit nostalgic.  In the second issue of Grayhat, our mysterious rider is on his way to a major showdown.

We catch up with our heroes as they meander on their voyage, until the same people who mean to do Bird harm, find them, and tried to cause a ruckus. This disruption leaves Grayhat to go on a mostly solo expedition to destroy the monster that wants Bird dead, with unbeknownst to him, the help of Neda, who has secretly accompanied him. What he doesn’t know, is the monster is a shapeshifter, one that gives Grayhat, the fight of his life. By issue’s end, he survives to the end, defeats the monster but is still figuratively and metaphorically, not out of the woods yet.

Overall, the action-packed side adventure fans of the book did not know they needed. The story by J.R. Beirens is smart, fun and has enough action that proves that Bierens is a master storyteller. The art by J.R. Beirens evokes fear, delight and euphoria. Altogether, an excellent comic that gives reader another action packed adventure.

Story: J.R. Beirens Art: J.R.Beirens
Story:9 Art:9 Overall:9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: F*ck Off Squad

There is something surreal and beautiful about stories which examine just one day. One of the most memorable series is the “Before” film trilogy which star Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The films start with a chance meeting and find these two people over different times of their lives getting to know and catch up with each other over a course of a day. The first film encompassed the beauty of young love. The second film examines how one becomes more cynical about love and relationships. The third film examines the flaws that the concept of love encompasses and the very institution of marriage in all its complexities.

Not all stories that revolve around one are about love and just like life, it should not be alone. Sometimes a good story can be just about three friends having one great day. In Dave Baker and Nicole Goux’s F*ck Off Squad, we get one such fine day.

We meet Jimmy, Megan, and Clark, three friends who could not be more different but bond over their love of skateboarding and the many challenges of being a teenager. We follow this tri of friends as Megan as she heartbreakingly falls for the lead singer of her band, Teenage Switchblade, begins to dissipate, while Clark tries to get Jimmy to talk about her breakup with her girlfriend, a relationship she hoped was going somewhere. We also find Clark catching feelings for a girl on his high school basketball team, Saanvi, as his attraction to her reaches a fever pitch.  Meanwhile, Jimmy has secretly been seeing her ex-girlfriend, Kate, keeping it a secret from her friends, trying to avoid the judgment from her friends. By book’s end, we find out more about Clark’s home life, Jimmy does what is best for her, and they all realize that relationships suck.

Overall, it’s one of the best slice of life comic books I have read in a very long time. It will make you fall in love with each of the characters and you’ll become engrossed in their beautifully flawed world. The story by Dave Baker is relatable, funny, and heartbreaking. The art by Goux is stimulating and vibrantly drawn. Altogether, this duo proves that sometimes your friends is all the family you need.

Story: Dave Baker Art: Nicole Goux
Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blake and Mortimer Vol. 4 The Francis Blake Affair

Throughout the past, in about every country, there are always traitors whose actions can tip the scales of history. Of course, sometimes these betrayals have no bearing but it shows just how fragile trust is. Benedict Arnold’s actions led to him being written as a failure and the ultimate example of what happens to anyone who betrays their country. But, what happens to the people who are framed for a crime like treason that they didn’t commit?

As there is worse feeling in the world than when you tell the truth and you still are not believed. This is when you feel like you are at your lowest. What happens when you are the only person who can clear your name? This is the dilemma that is faced in the fourth volume of Blake and Mortimer, where one of our heroes is framed with leaking information.

We are taken to London, where a recently arrested spy reveals to the world that he is part of a vast network looking to take down England. As MI-5 starts their investigation, it leads to a man who looks exactly like Francis Blake. This leads Mortimer into action, hoping to prove that his friend is innocent, he must find Blake before British Intelligence does, as it may cost Blake his life.

Overall, it’s an excellent installment that gives fans of the series a true mystery with a dash of espionage. The story by Jean Van Hamme is action packed, dense and riveting, The art by Ted Benoit is beautiful. Altogether, this is the one story which would be the perfect jumping on point for any new readers.

Story: Jean Van Hamme Art: Ted Benoit
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Skullduggery: A Legal Fiction #2

As a fan of crime noir stories, there’s a ton of them on television. The sheer number of shows have proliferated in the last ten years. Turn to any channel and you will find a multitude of shows that have constantly redefined the crime procedural. One of the biggest platforms right now that has been one of the go to streaming services is Amazon. Amazon has been creating original material for the last few years and to some mixed results.

One of the better shows on the platform is Sneaky Pete which functions as a crime noir dramedy about one ca manipulate mistake identity. Another one of the shows that is within the crime noir genre is Hand Of God which revolves around a judge who believes he hears God. This show proves that genre can utilize devices from other genres to tell a great story. In the second issue of Skullduggery we delve deeper into this world where not everything is what it seems.

In the opening panels, we meet Maggie PI, a canine detective who is keen on investigating the murders by the docks. We also catch up with Judge Stewie Sponte ponders how it would be if justice would work outside the confines of the court system. As Stewie in quite an unorthodox ice breaker, decides to introduce alcohol to his court, thereby getting everyone drunk. By issue’s end, we finally find out who is the man pulling the strings throughout the city and who exactly is behind the murders.

Overall, it’s an excellent second issue which gets readers deeper into this world where everyone crosses lines of morality. The story by J.R. Beirens is funny, intelligent, and fast paced. The art by Beirens is beautiful and bright. Altogether, a great installment that gives readers a new spin on the legal thriller.

Story: J.R. Beirens Art: J.R. Beirens
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Advance Review: Bitter Root #1

One of the most underrated filmmakers of all time is Mario Van Peebles. His movies both entertain and provoke thought. New Jack City brought the world to the inner city and made it face the crack dilemma. Panther told the story of the Black Panthers through a rather unique perspective. Then there is the movie which I consider his best, Baadasssss, about his father’s monumental film that started the conversation of what Black people would like to see in theaters.

His movies filled a space where people rarely saw themselves on screen. The films sometimes were based on real life and sometimes delved into other genres where he made sure to change the game. He challenged the trope that black people usually died in fantasy and horror films by making them the heroes. His most recent show on Syfy, Superstition, revolved around a demon hunting family in New Orleans. This last foray into television yielded mixed results. It lacked a few things but was an exceptional concept. In the first issue of David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene’s Bitter Root, the promise shown in that show is fully realized in a similar concept with a few twists.

We are transported to 1920s Harlem where a young couple is killed by mysterious circumstances. In the comic we meet the Sangerye family, a group of demon hunters whose purpose is to protect New York and cancel the apocalypse. We also meet Doctor Sylvester who is searching for a serum to control his supernatural condition. The Sangeryes may be his only hope.

Overall, the first issue is an excellent debut that unfolds like Dirty Dozen meets the Italian Job where one badass family is about to save the world.  The story by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown is action packed, epic, smart, funny and challenges just about every supernatural trope. The art by Sanford Greene is stunning and luminous. Altogether, one of the best books to come from Image in a while, one that already has changed the game.

Story: David F. Walker and Chuck Brown Art: Sanford Greene
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Djinn Vol. 11: An Eternal Youth

One of the best shows to be on television in the last ten years, was the remarkable Tyrant. The show was on FX and lasted only three seasons and produced by the same people who made 24 and Homeland. The show revolved around the son of a dictator who comes back from America. He must deal with his past and his identity as part of the royal family the rulers of an imaginary nation in the UAE that have been considered tyrants. What the creators sought to do with the show was to see the world through the eyes of people we would only know of in the news. They successfully made us both hate and empathize with them with equal passion. We saw that even with what they have, they were just human.

The show featured many interesting plots which questioned familial bonds, the role of government, what makes a monarchy, and what happens to a love unrequited. One of the more intriguing storylines was that of Nusraat Al Fayeed as she was married to the sitting dictator’s son. She was one of the more complex characters within the show as her family stood against the monarchy. Tension between polar opposites usually makes for a good story but when its high stakes like this show was, it makes more even greater drama. In the 11th volume of Djinn, one such dilemma is thrust upon Jade, one that she doesn’t shy away from.

We find Jade as she is instructing Tamila, on the ways to love a man, a man she is reluctant to fall for, seeing that her family is wary of English settlers in India. Meanwhile, Tamila’s father, Raja Singh continues his assault on the British forces which have settled in country, making the tension between the English and the Indian peoples even more voracious. Eventually Jade becomes more intimate with what is really going in India, and how Tamila is at the center of all the chaos. By book’s end, one of Jade’s enemies begins a scheme which looks to overtake Jade and her powers as a Djinn.

Overall, an excellent comic which combines scintillating escapades with political intrigue. The story by Jean Dufaux is sexy, smart and a pot boiler. The art by Ana Miralles is both lifelike and elegant. Altogether, this book shows Dufaux and Miralles at the top of their game as the character of Jade is elevated in this book.

Story: Jean Dufaux Art: Ana Miralles
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special

It’s always amazing the people you end up becoming friends with. It’s interesting to see how people become friends in literature and especially in comics. Take the comic Archer and Armstrong, where one person was hired to kill the other only to become friends when they realize that they both had been lied to. As entertaining as it is to see these relationships blossom, the ones that are made in horror stories, to me, usually are the most relatable. In the Halloween Special, Wytches: Bad Egg, we find two boys who should not be friends find a common bond in the dark and murky world of Wytches.

We meet Sebastian Clay, a normal adolescent boy, on his way to school, where one of his friend’s fathers, stops t pick him up but when he refuses, he tries to abduct Sebastian. This is where we find out his mother just so happens to be part of a lineage of some of the most ruthless Wytch hunters in history, “The Irons,” as she rescues her son and kills his friend’s father, who just so happens to be a Wytch. We also meet Jackson Belle, Sebastian’s best friend, whose lineage is the complete opposite of Sebastian’s, as he belongs to a family of Wytches, known as the “High Horns.” As the two friends struggle with who the other is, their bond is tried as family and tradition cast long shadows on their identities.

Overall, it’s a beautiful story in this gory horror filled world which will make the reader appreciate your friendships. The story by Scott Snyder is gripping, complicated and heartfelt. The art by Jock is enthralling and remarkable. Altogether, this story more than proves that this team is at best when they dive deep into the darkest recesses of their minds.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Jock
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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