Tag Archives: don ellis aguillo

Review: Rise #3

Rise #3 cover

JRR Tolkien is a master storyteller whose love for myths and the English language showed in his work. The people who have read Lord of the Rings can attest to its fascination and brilliance. What is most fascinating is not the fantastical world-building but his character development. We get invested in his characters within a few pages, wanting them to win at all costs.

The ring itself is a character that has its own history and its own powers. Then there is this unlikely band of friends, who come together to get rid of the ring, on a treacherous and almost deadly journey. We see within one of their first times they run into trouble they lost one of their own, temporarily, how they kept on task despite the possible tragedy. In the third issue of Rise, our band of heroes, learn to move forward despite losing one of their own.

We find Haydan, who’s searching for the Queen’s allies within the walls of Pasif’kah, as she breaches Duncan the Seer’s temple in hopes of gathering intel that would aid her search, not before one meets their end. We also find Zakaiah and her entourage camped out north of the kingdom, in hopes of finding some refuge and planning their next moves now that Zakaiah’s protector, General Junayo, has been killed, as Balthazar concocts a plan to evade the Soulthieves. We are also taken back to the capital, where a clandestine meeting of what remains of the royal court looks for an audience with the Queen of Qards, who negotiates a price for her help, one that the regents are initially reluctant to give up. By the issue’s end, an ally rises from the dead, the entourage finally reaches their destination, and a gang of Soulthieves is headed their way.

This third issue puts into context just how complex this world and these characters are. The story by Don Ellis Aguillo is passionate and entertaining. The art by Aguillo is glorious. Altogether, an issue that unfolds as every great story does, slowly building up the tension.

Story: Don Ellis Aguillo Art: Don Ellis Aguillo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Rise #2

Rise #2

Black Panther, even before the movie, was a sort of icon for kids of color. The very concept of a Prince who has superhuman abilities, is extremely smart, and an Avenger, made him quite formidable. I remember reading the early issues and not quite connecting. It was mostly because it was originally not written from a black perspective.

The point which drew me back in was when Reginald Hudlin took over the series. His remixing of the narrative starting with Flags Of Our Fathers, made him someone whom Captain America did not have the upper hand on. One of the most memorable panels from Hudlin’s run is the battle to become the Black Panther. In the second issue of Rise, Zakaiah is in the midst of an ambush, which also serves as one of the tests the young Princess must pass.

We meet Frix, a master inventor, who has come under the employ of Balthazar, to tip the scales in their favor, as the road is seen to be treacherous. As we are dropped right back in the middle of the ambush, where Zakaiah is separated from the royal entourage and a battle between Junayd, the lead Soul Thief and General Adofo takes place. As Junayd gets the better of Adofo, Balthazar casts a spell to gain an advantage over the Soulthieves. By issue’s end, our heroes beat the Soulthieves momentarily while losing one of their own in the process.

This issue is a heart-wrenching issue which shows that nothing is gained without sacrifice. The story by Don Ellis Aguillo is intense and well characterized. The art by Aguillo is magnificent. Altogether, an issue that only antes up on the action and gives readers a nice backstory

Story: Don Ellis Aguillo Art: Don Ellis Aguillo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Rise #1

Rise #1

As an avid reader, one of my favorite genres is high fantasy. When I came upon The Witcher novels, I was more than intrigued as it blended myths from several cultures. It also reminded me of Vampire Hunter D, the late 1980s anime where which followed a half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter. When I heard they were making it a TV show I was more than intrigued.

The show revolves a mutant monster hunter whose destiny lied with a child he had left with a sovereign for safety. As the show slowly reveals, there’s more to their connection than one would deduce. In the debut issue of Rise, we meet a young regent whose life is about to change as she becomes her kingdom’s new ruler.

We’re taken to the kingdom of Pasif’kah in far-flung future, in the 50th century, where its throne sits vacant, its guard, severely undermanned, their mages inexperienced, and a kingdom, directionless for the very least, an observation the historian has made. As we find out the Ternion, a trio of royal advisors who were charged with keeping the kingdom intact in case of foreign invasion usurping the royal family. We also meet the royal family, the king, and queen, Voltaire and Ember, and their daughter, Zakaiah, whose favor with their subjects, only grew their popularity, which only stoked the envy the Ternion had against the royal family. This lead to to the king and queen’s sudden and mysterious disappearance, one that many suspected the Ternion for.  As what remains of the royal council convenes on the future of the kingdom, as Balthazar, the chief Royal advisor, presses that princess Zakiah, to prove her worth to occupy the throne will undergo the trials of her house, the House of Jasser, as declared by royal decree. We also find out about the Soulthieves, a demonic horde, thought to live off the souls of humans while living endlessly, who attack nearby kingdoms, feasting on innocent masses, with the threat of them attacking Pasif’kah seeming very imminent. By the issue’s end, Zakaiah’s entourage is attacked by a den of Soulthieves , one of the Ternion hires an assassin and someone is lost at the moment.

Rise #1 is one of the best high fantasy comics I have read in a minute. The story by Don Aguillo is dense and well developed. The art by Aguillo is breathtaking. Altogether, a story that levels up the genre and adds another hero to root for.

Story: Don Ellis Aguillo Art: Don Ellis Aguillo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics is Ready to Rise with Don Ellis Aguillo

Scout Comics has announced Rise written and drawn by Don Ellis Aguillo.

Rise is about broken, lost, splendidly dysfunctional people (is there any other kind?) who are brought together by a hope they had either lost or knew nothing of, but cling to nonetheless. Through tragic circumstances, a 9 year old girl is set to take the mantle of Queen. She will face resistance from a power-hungry aristocracy and a horde of vampiric demons, all on the brink of war.

The series will debut in 2019.

Review: Shards Volume 2

When it comes to comics it is rare to find anything original anymore. Most feel like derivatives of another, some more obvious than others. As most creators are fans first, as they come into the field, hoping to create something as inspirational as the works they read. For me personally, I have always been inspired by the likes of Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman, as well as Ed Brubaker, as their ability to reinvent or even remix those tropes and commonly told tales to something magnificent, is truly awe inspiring. The same could be said or many of the men and women who started the houses of Marvel and DC.

As Chris Claremont’s imprint on the X-Men brand can still be felt to today’s comics and who would have though that the last time he worked on the book, not too many people have ever heard of characters like Wolverine and Magneto, fast forward to today, and they are synonymous with popular culture. The same can be said Alan Moore, whose reach into Swamp Thing, is still the character’s most redefining work, and has been as the gold standard of how to write a character exploration. Rarely, do newcomers possess this gravitas when they first start in comics, as it usually comes with time and experience. One such group at Inhiatus Studios, have not only bucked that trend but are setting new standards as they create new material, as they prove in their second major collections, Shards Volume Two.

In “Cache”, in a world where humans and and robots look alike, we meet a young man wakes up not knowing who he is, where he is and what happened to him, finds help from a bartender, as they fight off smugglers and those who think our hero is more than meets the eye.  In “Bob and Weave”, we meet two friends and learnt their origin story, as their relationship is more complicated than it looks. In “Perilous”, a young man finds out he is an angel, as he gets recruited in a war between werewolves and angels. In “Be A Man, Man”, we follow a prison guard as he goes on his day at work and finds some semblance of normality at home. In “The Dragon’s Kin”, an indentured servant finally gets her freedom but may have lost a love that she never knew she wanted. Lastly, in “Flipside”,we follow a young couple formt he first time they met to possibly their last?

Overall, it’s a masterful collection of stories that are both personal and fantastical at the same time leaving readers with both a sense of awe at times and lightheartedness at times. The stories by the creators are pleasurable, action packed, well developed in story and characters and definitely written for comic book fans. The art by the creators is gorgeous and vivid. Altogether, the stories told in this collection feel fresh, familiar and most importantly, fun.

Story: Benjamin Langston, Andy Niggles, Gabriel Peralta, Danielle Rueda, Digo Salazar, Curtis Slow
Art: Auskey, Don Ellis Aguillo, Bianca Lesaca, Digo Salazar, Liliana Vazquez-Song, Andrea Vidrine, Tristan Yuvienco
Story: Don Ellis Aguillo, Kimberly Moss, Matthew Ng, Pip Reyes, Raf Salazar
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Shards Volume 1

I have been a comics reader as long as I can remember and although my love affair with comics has not been consistent, it appears I fall right back in love during its most epic events. Like when I was five years old and saw a copy of the crossover event between the Teen Titans and the X-men, I didn’t understand until years later, when that very issue was in a glass case at Jim Hanley’s Universe in Staten Island how important that was. I remember when DC decided to kill Superman, I never knew anything like that ever happening in comics, and although killing a major character is commonplace now, it was devastating then. Then there were what comics insiders like the now defunct Wizard magazine came to call it and even a documentary about it was known as, “The image Revolution.”

For the very first time, these writers, and artists, who were practically “rock stars”, and this was light years before social media. They introduced characters like Spawn, Maxx, and Savage Dragon, which not only have thrived but changed the perceptions of how dark a superhero can get. Rob Liefeld, finally got to do with Youngblood what he could not do with New Mutants. Jim Lee finally got to do with WildC.A.T.s what he could not do with the X-men.

These men ruled the comics world for years and although some have moved on their influence is felt, even at Image which is a whole different company. The comics world is now filled with many indie companies who all have come not only under the influence of DC and Marvel but also Image.  In my humble opinion, few other than Black Mask Studios and a handful of others, really have done as much in the spirit of Image. So, when I found out about In Hiatus Studios last summer, I was intrigued, as this was no ordinary comics company but a company whose creators, were a majority Filipino Americans.

If I can remember there has not been too many ventures like this, even though Filipino artists/writers have been working in the field for years like the extraordinary Whilce Portacio. What most intrigued me are the different genres they were working in, as many comics studios focus solely on superhero comics, this company is doing things a little different, in fact they are doing business in the spirit of Image. As their titles do include ones that focus on superheroes but also have a huge fantasy focus. They are literally letting their creators do the comics that they want to do.

In their introduction to the world, in the collection known as Shards Volume 1, the reader is introduced to a world they have never known, in fact, worlds, they have never seen. In Longshot, we are introduced to a world, where having superpowers, is as common as having a transit card, and two friends, both equally skilled, as one participates in the League, where the best of the best compete and the other is relegated to being a normal civilian, even though he yearns for the sport. In Winter, a story which has shadows of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, we meet an immortal being whose bored with eternity and yearns for death who she finds at her next turn. In Pug, we meet a ragtag group of warriors who coincidentally meet each other while on a hilarious search for a precious stone, which is not what any of them expected. In Strays, a group of travelers are on the run as death of a prince and a slave revolt turn their worlds upside down. In Rise, in the far future, the world has descended into the primordial version of itself, reinvigorating dark magic, ancient races, the undead and even, the supernatural, and an oncoming fight for the throne of this new world known as Pacifica, has this world ready to go to war. In Place of Honor, in a world that resembles the Underworld movies, but better written, a war between the Ryders (hunters) and the Wolves (Lycans), have raged for centuries, but a tide is about to turn, and this world will never be the same.

Overall, this must be one of the better introductions to comic book studio I have seen in a long time, as they have set a new standard and I cannot read another comic the same way again. The stories contained, although different in tone and storytelling, are great examples of perfect worldbuilding and meticulous character development. The art is to die for as every illustrator brings their own flavor, and although I have my favorites, there are no slouches here, as every artist is a heavyweight. Altogether, an excellent entrance of this new comic book company which I cannot wait to read each title as they come out over the next year.

Story: Pip Reyes, Kimberly Moss, Raf Salazar, Matt Ng, Don Ellis Aguillo, Digo Salazar
Art: Pip Reyes, Kimberly Moss, Raf Salazar, Matt Ng, Don Ellis Aguillo, Digo Salazar
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: GO BUY NOW!!!!