AWBW – Dead Legends/Mezo #1

A Wave Blue World has been making a name for itself by way of graphic novels and their highly popular anthologies (Dead Beats, All We Ever Wanted, This Nightmare Kills Fascists, Broken Frontier). With the release of Dead Legends and Mezo they’ve entered some new territory as a publisher. Released with a “premier” 1st issue comic book and then followed by the full story in trade form, the two newest titles from AWBW sees the company branching out into what more people would call a traditional comic book approach.

Dead Legends

Written by James Maddox, with art by Gavin Smith, and letters by Ryan Ferrier the 80s kung-fu flick of a comic comes straight at you. Some parts Kill Bill and some parts Enter the Dragon, the action kicks off early and doesn’t ever really let up. It’s the best part of an 80’s action flick and uses the Kung Fu theme to deliver a ramped up story of revenge. As with real life the characters in Dead Legends are drawn to those like them. Without knowing much other than perhaps a reputation cliques are formed and battle lines are drawn. Other than the obvious revenge motif the intentions of the combatants in the tournament are hinted but held close to chest for the unfolding of the whole story. The read is quick but that’s not to say empty or missing something. The point of this book is simple. Revenge, flat out. By using the tropes of the 80s action flick and the Kung Fu genre the quickness of the read and the A to B point of the story doesn’t fall flat or leave you thinking there’s nothing there. Rather, the approach makes the book come off as if you’re watching the first part of one of those 80s jams. While a serious story on the whole there are bits of humor that help break the pages and keep the seriousness from being an overbearing weight for the reader to lift.

The art and lettering lend to this feel. The aesthetic of the book is perfect of what it is conveying. It’s action full on and the lines and effects push that off the page and into your face. The use of red especially sets things off and seems to be drawing a connecting line through the different threads we’re presented in this first issue. It also ties the literal action portrayed to the story being told. Everything about the book visually enhances the point blank tone of the book.

This is an absolutely solid introduction to the series. It hooked me and had me wanting to pick up the trade upon release (which I did).

MEZO

Written by Tyler Chin-Tanner, with art by Josh Zingerman, colors by Doug Garbark, and lettered by Thomas Mauer this Mesoamerican inspired offering brings the promise of a grand new mythology to explore. Upon picking up the book it is beyond clear that the people, lands, and mythology of Mezo are drawn from the rich history of the Myan, Incan, and similar civilizations. In Mezo and empire is on the rise and the tribes of the land are endangered by it’s growth. Their safety, way of life, and the peace that runs through the lands are all threatened by the Emperor and God driving the expansion. Familiar tropes are blended with a scarcely used setting to create a wholly new take on the fight against what appears to be emotionless power. While the rest of the series will certainly explore it, the religious and over reliance of divine will that these types of cultures held is on display. While it introduces quite a bit this first issue isn’t crowded and gets enough across to effectively introduce all that it needs to in order to keep you reading. Seeds are planted that leave tabs of exploration open for the characters that are hard line introduced in terms of their place in the struggle. While painted as black and white it is clear that there’s grey within more than one of the main players in this saga.

The book is beautiful. Having the burden of presenting an entire world and mythology isn’t easy. Everything about the book looks and feels grand in stature. The expanding empire is both beautiful and imposing. The tribe is appropriately barbaric in look but clearly more so in culture. Each side of the struggle has a distinct look and the colors just explode the visuals off the page. It all presents as an epic presentation.

I loved this intro into an all new fantasy realm. An absolutely beautiful book that warrants further reading on the art alone, Mezo’s narrative promises plenty to keep you intrigued.

REVIEW: RV9 #1 Mad Cave

RV9 #1 opens with a dramatically striking front cover by Nicolas Salamanca, coloured by Mauricio VIllarreal. A young woman dancing, arms elevated, lit in red against a blue and violet background.
Part One of Five of this Mad Cave release is written by Ben Goldsmith. It’s the future, 2055 in fact, in Rome. The assassin Velveteen has ‘regrettably’ escaped the clutches of the Order of 9. And they want her back. The Order had abducted her from here family as a child, you see, and molded her into an assassin. Now, intent on revenge on the Order, Velveteen is helped in her quest by two men: an American hacker named Jasper and a rookie cop named Pazzi.
Created by Mark London, RV9 has promise. The concept of the abducted assassin seeking revenge is not a new one, but hey, it’s all in how you tell the tale. What storylines, which characters, and so on. Unfortunately, the telling here is confused, hard to follow. We are frequently confused by the twists, turns and just plain mysteriousness of it all. We need the synopsis and the libretto to understand the opera. Speaking of opera, there are scenes in RV9 that seem gratuitous, extra to the clarity of the central plot, which is: Who is Velveteen, who abducted her and why?
Penciller Travis Mercer and inker Miguel Angel Zapata put their best foot (feet?) forward in illustrating this story of the prodigal assassin, but again, things get off track. The drawing angles confuse us, we slow down to decipher strangely angled panel shapes, and some well-meaning closeups only disorient us. What is going on? On the plus side, the faces, hair, expressions are wonderful, and colourist Maria Santaolalla provides plenty of atmosphere. Santaolalla gives us dramatic environments, candy coloured buildings, moody shadowed alleys.
RV9 #1 is a mixed bag. Good concept, but a slow read, full of twisting threads that we need to unravel. Let’s hope issue 2 is a smoother yarn to work with!
Mad Cave Studios, RV9 #1, $3.99 for 34 pages of content. Assume Teen + Rating
@nsalamancaa, @spinneyalan, @MarkLondonMCS, @TravisMercer15, @MSantaolallart
RV91

Review: Savage Bastards #1 Mad Cave

It’s the Savage West where men were men and women were women. Oh, and let’s face it, they way history tells it, there was a lot of savagery all around!
Savage Bastards gets right to it in issue 1. Writer David Galiano brings forth the sixguns of blazing hot pistol drama to the dusty Mexican town of Guanajuato Mexico in 1873. The beautiful Rose Franklin is eating apples, laying low and aiming her pistol high. But then The Spider sits down beside her, and things get violently worse for Rose.
I like the gnarly, cussing feel of this story. Carlos Angeli nails down the dusty, the downtrodden horse-faced locals, the neighing and nodding of the themes and motifs of the old west. Whereever there’s a cliche at play, you can be sure it’s done right, “gol’darn it to tarnation”. Fun reading, I tell ya. Galiano’s dialogue rings true enough, the gun fights bring us back to Clint Eastwood and Alan Ladd, and the desperation sweat is everywhere. Plus, half brothers, Sam and Elliot, fight across a series of satellite towns in the Sonoran Desert in order to save Elliot’s mother from their sadistic, sociopath of a father,
There is great value, loads of great moments, and a great many panels of lesser men just trying to make a go of it. Sons of a Gun, check out this title!
Mad Cave Studios, Savage West #1, $3.99 for 21 pages of content. Assume Teen + rating
@MadCaveStudios, @spinneyalan,
SavageBastards1

Review: Wolvenheart #1 from Mad Cave

Wolvenheart #1, from Mad Cave Studios is enough to make your hair stand up! Or in my case, to make my former follicles quake in fear, wherever they may lie!

Creator and writer Mark London begins Part One (of Seven) back in the olde days: upstate New York, in 1858. An experiment is being conducted under a full moon at the Fairfield Psychiatric Facility.
A man is strapped to a gurney, insisting that he’s a werewolf. The doctor scoffs: we’ll just see! Just as things are starting to go really REALLY wrong for the doctor, enter Sterling Cross, legendary Werewolf slayer of Wolvenheart!!

The resulting tale is a time-travelling, multi-dimensional dive into an evil conspiracy that reaches as far as Queen Victoria’s royal family!

Mark London is clearly in his element in Wolvenheart. There is a joy and cackle ever-present in the proceedings; it’s part old monster movie, part Back To The Future. The dialogue is direct and dramatic, the scenes carefully choreographed for maximum impact. Alejandro Giraldo contributes wonderful optics: bad beasts, wicked women, plenty of period costumes dripping with daggers. The colouring is murky, atmospheric and delightful.

If you like your horror served with a side of science fiction à la Doctor Who, well, Wolvenheart may be just for you!

Mad Cave Studios, Wolvenheart #1 (of 7), $3.99 for 28 pages of content, Assume Teen + rating

Alan Spinney

REVIEW: Hellfighter Quin #1, Mad Cave Studios

The front cover of Hellfighter Quin #1, from Mad Cave Studios is a knockout. Literally a knockout, as we see the triumphant Quinlan Jones standing over his fight opponent. Let the bells ring!!

As we learn in the intro, Jones, aka the Hellfighter, is back, unwillingly. You see, there is a gem called the Azure Sun, and bad people want it. Quin is forced to fight for his life against some pretty rough baddies. And someone’s impersonating him!

Writer Jay Sandlin delivers the attitude and the dialogue here, as Hellfighter gets egged into battle. The tensions run high here!

The artist Atagun contributes plenty of visual drama to the mix: splash pages, angled panels, leaping figures. The figures are good, and the story’s progression is easy to follow.

Colourist Maria Santaolalla’s palette is richly rewardIng in deep colour. The environments, fight scenes and subterranean blues all ring true. Hellfighter Quin is off to a powerful start, so be sure to check out this issue!

Mad Cave Studios, Hellfighter Quin #1, $3.99 for 23 pages of content. Assume Teen+ rating

Reviewed by Alan Spinney @spinneyalan