Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Sist3rs Book 1

SIST3RS #1

When one thinks of monsters, you also think of the ones who vanquish them. For Dracula, it’s Van Helsing, which was last seen in the BBC Netflix co-production. It offered, under Steven Moffett’s deft guidance, a relatable yet fierce version of Van Helsing. It also provided an almost infallible version of Dracula, who ultimately gets outwitted by this version of Van Helsing. This is one of the most popular and most prominent examples of this archetype.

It has translated to comics, in both relationships at DC between villain and hero, Batman & Joker, and Superman & Lex Luthor.  What I find confounding is the lack of monster hunters that are POC, which is why I was so glad when I read David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene’s masterpiece Bitter Root. It’s about a Black family who just so happens to be monster hunters. The book added another set of protagonists who were complex and relatable. Geoff Thorne also has ventured to add to the canon with his book, Sist3rs.

We meet Ruul, a young woman growing up in an Afrikan village, who has just gotten married, and whose husband must go through a trial that all young men in their village undergo. As her husband departs for his trial, Ruul, looks as he leaves with sorrow. As in this rite of passage, he must fight for life and to a certain extent, temptation, as his true nature will determine whether or not he passes. By the issue’s end, Ruul also succumbs to true nature, as she raises shield and spear to fight for her husband.

Overall, a powerful debut issue that introduces one of the protagonists and the moment she becomes what she was always meant to be. The story by Thorne is enthralling. The art by Thorne is gorgeous. Altogether, a story I definitely cannot wait to continue.

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

Review: Discombobulated: Mistook

DISCOMBOBULATED: MISTOOK

Misunderstandings happen every day which is why communication is so crucial. You never want to have your intentions, actions, or words to be misconstrued. As a single cisgender male, I often wonder if a smile or being friendly may be taken the wrong way. I cannot count on my hands how many times women have taken it as me hitting on them and just not being friendly.

Then there are times when I show interest and the women do not find me attractive or only see me as a friend. This is a constant struggle for most men. You want to be yourself but you don’t want to come off the wrong way either. In the fifth story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, our protagonist has gotten caught up in a rather awkward situation.

We find David, free from Annie, out with a new male friend, who he soon finds out misconstrued their encounter as a date and assumed he was bisexual. As his new friend’s initial assumption is based on his social media profile, leading to why he thought David was in the first place. As David’s new friend starts to explain why he thought David was bisexual, he eventually objectifies him. By story’s end, even though David is not attracted to him, he attempts to break things off amicably.

Overall, a funny chapter that shows the complexity of perception. The story by David F. Walker is appealing and enjoyable. The art by DJ Parnell and Marcus Kwame is striking. Altogether, a story that shows how important first impressions are.

Story: David F Walker Art: DJ Parnell  & Marcus Kwame
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: An Iranian Metamorphosis

AN IRANIAN METAMORPHOSIS

When it comes to the plight of refugees worldwide, it is sad to say that the general public doesn’t have a good understanding of the situation. It was very disheartening to hear that the ideals we stand on, to help those who can’t help themselves, has become one of self idolization and overwhelming xenophobic paranoia. Nevertheless, this is not isolated to our country but is a far too common worldwide perspective, refugees are more a nuisance than people who fear for their safety.

Every country has their own agendas and their own unique problems leading refugees to flee to certain countries and avoiding others. The journey for most of them is perilous and is often met with hostility everywhere they go. This is truly the contrast between first and third world problems. There are those to choose to see it and others who don’t because it doesn’t affect them. In Mana Neyestani’s brilliant and harrowing An Iranian Metamorphosis he documents and contextualizes the plight of these refugees in this searing collection of his vaunted comic strip.

We’re taken to 2006 Turkey, where a young Mana is learning his trade, under the guise of a hardened editor, one that would make him both a skilled storyteller and master soothsayer.  In the first chapter, he would find out what it is to come under fire for telling the truth in his comic strips while working for a local newspaper in Tehran. In the second chapter, his comic strips would not only catch the attention of the authorities but would also lead him to be jailed for it. In the third chapter, he found out about the lengths that the government would go to extract the truth, which is where we find out about the days of torture he would endure. In the fourth and fifth chapters, violence and media censorship would start to rise, even without Mana’s influence and even though he was not directly involved, his sentence would be extended. In the sixth, he and his friend, Mehdrad would be put into solitary confinement together, facing endless days together, imagining a world going on without them, as if they were shipwrecked, but before it could get any worse, Mehdrad gets sick. In the seventh chapter, he would get sent to a new section for white crimes, where he was given a new name and identity, where Mana makes a discovery by happenstance. In the eighth and ninth chapters,  Mana and Mehdrad would make new friends/acquaintances, in jail for nonviolent crimes, but some, were mentally disturbed,  and some were just drug addicts, who suffered from withdrawals nightly.  In the tenth and eleventh chapters, he would get a 10-day pass from jail, where he and his wife would seek asylum with the French embassy and on a whim would fly to Dubai, never to see his family ever again.  In the twelfth and thirteenth chapters, he would endure a new reality in Dubai, as his asylum case would be called into question by the French, leaving him and his wife in limbo. In the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters, they would venture to Kuala Lumpur, as their hopes lie in suspension until the French Embassy made a determination and eventually to China, where they would be arrested for counterfeit passports. In the sixteenth and last chapters, they finally regained their identities and their records expunged, to live a free life in Malaysia.

Overall, an excellent graphic novel which shows just how stressful and dangerous it is be a refugee. The story by Neyestani is searing and affecting. The art by Neyestani is gorgeous. Altogether, an important story that shows the impact of empathy.

Story: Mana Neyestani Art: Mana Neyestani
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.89 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Discombobulated: The Alter(ed) Ego

DISCOMBOBULATED – “The Alter(ed) Ego”

As a child of the 1980s, I can honestly say I did not know how unique of a decade it was. This is when popular culture was at its height, as can be seen today in all the revivals in every medium. This is no coincidence as many of us who grew up then are now parents and in some cases grandparents. All of John Hughes movies are now considered classics and it also was the decade that gave us names like Stallone and Schwarzenegger.

As iconic as television shows of the decade were, there was something also unique about the movies. It gave us Goonies and Risky Business, and Revenge of the Nerds. As with many movies, not all were good, but many were well-intentioned, like the movie, Hunk, which was about how a computer nerd made a deal with the Devil to get a muscled up body. In the third story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, our protagonist has a conversation with his better self if he actually worked out and ate healthily

We find David, as he sees an athletic version of himself, as it tells him everything he knew but didn’t want to hear. As this alter ego digs more into his insecurities, even into his own racial identity, where its pointed out this version is darker in complexion. David finally realizes that those insecurities serve him no purpose, as everyone has them, and he should not feel bad for having them. By story’s end, he realizes his own self hatred is his own worst enemy .

Overall, a ruckus episode that is both self-deprecating and hilarious. The story by David F. Walker is appealing and amusing. The art by DJ Parnell and Von Porter is stunning. Altogether, a story that shows introspection is good only for a time.

Story: David F Walker Art: DJ Parnell and Von Porter
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Star Wars: The Legends of Luke Skywalker – The Manga

Star Wars: The Legends Of Luke Skywalker

In a franchise as loved by millions as the Star Wars saga, there are still mysteries to be uncovered about the main characters. The last trilogy of movies made for a passing of the torch for many fans. Every generation in the last 50 years, who have been fans of the franchise has had their own relationship with it. My generation grew up on the original trilogy while other generations got to know the universe the new movies and television shows created.

This is why when we hear that there are new stories culled from this universe about our most beloved characters we are mostly overjoyed. When Ken Liu released his book based on new adventures with Luke Skywalker I was definitely in line to pick it up. As I read the stories contained, it occurred to me just how much he loved this world as well. In VIZ Media’s graphic adaptation, Star Wars: The Legends Of Luke Skywalker, they bring to life the adventures he went on in Liu’s brilliant novel.

In the first story, “The Starship Graveyard”, with art by Akira Fukuya and Takashi Kiskaki, a Star Destroyer pilot crashes near a rebel base and has his own encounter with the infamous Jedi Knight, one which gives him a totally different view.  In “I Droid”, Haruichi illustrates how R2-D2 and C-3PO get sent to a work colony and Luke not only frees them but liberates the whole colony. In “The Tale Lugubrious Mote” Subaru brings to life a tale where an insect in Jabba The Hut’s lair tells from a different perspective Luke Skywalker’s meeting with Jabba in Return Of The Jedi and how Leia was not truly alone in her time there. In the final story, “Big Inside”, Akira Himekawa illustrates a story of a young biology student who gets rescued by Luke, only to go on her own adventure with the intrepid Jedi Knight as he encounters an old friend through the Force.

Overall, an engaging set of stories, though they rethread some familiar territory, it strikes that rich balance of nostalgia and intrigue. The stories by Liu are pure fan service. The art by the different creators is imbued with love and is very striking. Altogether, this book is the reason why so many fans have stayed in love with the franchise.

Story: Ken Liu Art: Akira Himekawa , Haruichi, Akira Fukaya, Takashi Kisaki, Subaru
Story: 9.7 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Wuhan I Know

The Wuhan I Know

Our current condition as a society has pushed us to the brink of panic and misunderstanding. This misunderstanding is only further compounded by xenophobia and racism that has truly turned us against each other. It’s one thing if much of this was due to internalized mindsets but when it also propelled by public figures it becomes even more demoralizing. This begins the unfortunate flow of misinformation that is not based on fact but on fear-mongering and general doubt of the unknown.

This epidemic has been an eye-opener for many new generations of people of color. As they may feel that certain prejudices are long gone, but COVID-19 has shown us that it laid quiescent, in the minds of those in power. This is even closer to home for people of Asian descent, who have to deal with attacks almost daily since this started. In Laura Gao’s important comic, The Wuhan I Know, we get a personal look into the epicenter of this disease, and what most people don’t understand.

The creator lets us know from the get-go, that she was born in Wuhan, but moved to Texas when she was 3, and much like every child of an immigrant, she faced misunderstanding instantly.  As she went from people not understanding how to pronounce Wuhan to her birthplace being villainized. This is where Gao shines, as she shows the reader, what Wuhan is, based on facts, how it is considered the Chicago of China, how its population is as big as some of the world’s largest metropolises. How it houses one of the oldest buildings in the world, The Yellow Crane Tower, built-in 220 AD and how in 1911, the turning point of the Chinese Revolution took place in Wuhan, in the WuChang Uprising. By comic’s end, Gao highlights one of Wuhan’s greatest attractions, its street food, where one can get hot & dry noodles, sticky rice, and duck neck sausage.

Overall, a pertinent comic that highlights a very misunderstood place in the world right now, a comic that must be read by everyone. The story by Gao is significant and smart. The art by Gao is stylish and beautiful. Altogether, a comic that corrects many inaccuracies and entertains simultaneously.

Story: Laura Gao Art: Laura Gao
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.9 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy because it is FREE

Review: Discombobluated: Reconsillyation

DISCOMBOBLUATED: RECONSILLYATION

When it comes to most wars across the world, the facts of the war are pretty much not up for dispute. Historians can agree on what happened at the Battle Of Normandy. Then there are wars where “facts” depend on who tells it. Take, for instance, the Mexican American War, where they view Pancho Villa as a hero while America has looked at him as an antagonist.

James Bowie and William B. Travis, are considered heroes of the Alamo, while Mexican history has always looked at them as agitators. Then there is the whole drama behind the War Of 1812, where to this day, no one can agree who won that war. This becomes even more entangled in personal relationships, where no one can agree on anything. In the eighth story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, David tries to amicably come to terms with Annie.

We find David, meeting Annie, where she assumes he is there to apologize to her for any misgivings, but he is looking for a more equitable end. As David soon realizes that there is no middle ground with her, as she takes liberties with his amenability, as she thinks his olive branch is his way of them getting back together. David eventually takes his apology back and understands immediately that reaching back out to her was a mistake. By the story’s end, David finally realizes how silly reconciliation is and decides to go back to his therapist.

Overall, a fascinating chapter which shows the ills of dealing with exes. The story by David F. Walker is side-splitting. The art by DJ Parnell is wonderful. Altogether, a story that gives an honest look at reconciliation.

Story: David F. Walker Art: DJ Parnell 
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Animalheads #2

Animalheads

One of my favorite shows of all time is The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. It starred a star from Doctor Who, Billie Piper. It was her star turn in this series that not only made me beguiled by her but entranced. Her portrayal of the two personas made for some very interesting television. The series is about a woman whose parents believe she works as a legal secretary but she actually entertains clients at an escort service.

Piper’s performance as Hannah was both tender and relevant. Her portrayal as Bella was pure fantasy and comedy in many instances which makes the fact that the show was a true story even more enchanting.  It also makes even more perplexing how one can lead such a double life without this task taking a toll. In the second issue of Animalheads our protagonists become steeped in their new vocations.

We find Vicki, Oli, Lucy, and Wyatt, shortly after the murder of Axel Winder. As they start digging Winder’s grave, they start to ponder their decisions up to this point, and if they could have changed anything. We soon find out that Vicki is one who brought it to the group of friends a business idea that was supposed to be easy money. By issue’s end, we find out how the guys confronted Axel Winder

Overall, an excellent detour to understanding these character’s motivations. The story by Son M. is thrilling. The art by Sam Curtis is eye-catching. Altogether, a pulse pounder.

Story: Son M. Art: Sam Curtis
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Discombobulated: Irrationality For the Win

DISCOMBOBULATED: IRRATIONALITY FOR THE WIN

Your inner voice is usually what people think of as their conscience. We rarely look at is as our worst enemy, that thing that holds us back or give us doubt in our motives and actions. Sometimes, we also fail to realize it is our based instinct.

It may be that “spidey sense” that a tingle when we feel something is wrong. It can lead us to places where we would never dream of or meeting the type of people we usually don’t commiserate with. It may even lead us to find that special somebody. In the seventh story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, David has a crisis, is it real or imagined; only he can answer it.

We find David, by himself, as he feels something is wrong, which is when his inner voice pops up struggling to calm him down. David feels he is having a heart attack while his inner voice warns him it is nothing but an anxiety attack. David’s inner voice finally succumbs as he realizes that it may be a heart attack.

Overall, an intriguing chapter which illustrates how such maladies occur. The story by David F. Walker is comical. The art by DJ Parnell is terrific. Altogether, a story that illustrates just how much stress occurs in things like anxiety attacks.

Story: David F. Walker Art: DJ Parnell 
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Discombobulated: Therapy Sessions Part 4

DISCOMBOBULATED: THERAPY SESSIONS PART 4

Leaders come in all shades and colors. There are those understanding people but cannot lead those individuals to do work. Then there are those who understand through discipline, as I used to see in the military, where they think that you should listen to them because of their position. Transition to civilian life often is difficult for these people as they soon find out that ordinary citizens could care less for who they were and definitely not for who they are.

Then there are those whom we call “non- confrontational politicians”. These people tend to often cower at the first sight of standing up for anything. Needless to say, they often make horrible supervisors but are rampant in every workplace one can think of. In the sixth story arc of the hilarious and relevant Discombobulated, we find that our protagonist hates confrontation, a flaw which has caused him more damage in his personal life.

We find David back at his therapist’s office talking about how his latest relationship with Annie. It seems to be a pattern of looking for toxic partners. He divulges that he faked his own death to get out of his relationship with her. David’s therapist brings to light the fact that his recent act of faking his own death reveals a substantial fear of confrontation. By story’s end, David’s therapist shows him that though Annie traumatized him that it also paralyzed his social life.

Overall, an intriguing chapter which shows just how much of a drain relationships can be. The story by David F. Walker is interesting and amusing. The art by DJ Parnell is outstanding. Altogether, a story that shows the scars relationships leave long after they are over.

Story: David F Walker Art: DJ Parnell 
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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