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Comic Review: Steampunk Originals, Vol. 1
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Maximus Prime   |  
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Steampunk Originals, Vol. 1Steampunk Originals, Vol. 1
Written by various authors
Illustrated by various artists
Arcana Studios
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Cover Price: $14.95

I can’t think of a better way to showcase the aesthetically pleasing visuals of steampunk than with a comic book anthology. In Arcana’s newest collection of comic shorts, Steampunk Originals, multiple writers and illustrators are able to push the boundaries of steampunk tropes by combining its concepts with those of other genres. The end results are a culmination of many creatively engaging stories. Check out my picks for some of the best from the volume.

“Rule Britannia: The Messenger” by Axel Howerton and Red Tash is the story of a girl who’s taken over her brother’s messenger job when he signed up to a pilot. She is tasked with delivering a note to Prince Harry from his brother, Prince Billy; but she’ll have to fight her way through a group of sleazy bar patrons first. Steven Yarbrough’s art draws you in from the first panel with is fast-paced, cartoon action and over-the-top characters.

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Comic Review: The Book
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Zenestex   |  
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The Book coverThe Book
Written by Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson
Art by Amanda Rachels
Colors by Gavin Michelli
Letters by Erik Hendrix
Edited by Amanda Hendrix
Arcana Comics
Release Date: December 2012
Cover Price: $14.95

The Book follows a group of student tourists in Italy who hunt down a DIY travel guide. When they find the book in a small café, one of the tourists discovers that it was stuffed with several pages of instructional text on an ancient ritual called Sanctus Letum, the Holy Death. This ritual allows someone to die, take a sneak-peek at what lies beyond, and come back to life. These ritual pages draw the tourists into the ritual spot of a death cult that believes that Lazarus, from the Bible, witnessed a few things before he was resurrected. Let the satanic rituals, demonic possessions, and gnarly death-making commence!

Creators Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson melded their own separate story ideas together to form The Book. Hendrix wanted to write a story about people killing themselves to see what’s in the afterlife. Nelson was toying with the idea of travelers hunting down collaborative, “off the grid” travel guides. The resulting story is a compelling twist on the old possession storyline. The Book is an inverse ghost story where the living want to explore the afterlife and, as a result, bring a little afterlife back with them. It’s a ritualistic twist on the movie Flatliners.

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Comic Review: The Inventor: The Story Of Tesla
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Waerloga69   |  @   |  
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The Inventor: The Story Of TeslaThe Inventor: The Story Of Tesla
Written by Rave Mehta
Art by Erik Williams
Cover by Rave Mehta & Erik Williams
Arcana Comics
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Cover Price: $19.95

The first issue in a new series from Arcana Comics, The Inventor: The Story Of Tesla is amazing in that it covers a huge amount of history in just over 150 pages. In a time where inventions were common, Nikola Tesla stood out above the rest. Unfortunately, his history is a bit lost amongst other greats such as Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan. Prepare yourself for a crash course in the history of man’s harnessing of electricity, Tesla’s life, and how he almost single-handedly revolutionized the modern world.

We start with a quick study of his early years and how his father wanted him to study at a seminary school. We jump quickly through those times to his young adulthood and how he traveled to America to follow his dreams. Becoming a protege to Thomas Edison, he learned that politics play a huge part in any funding of scientific studies, forcing him to reevaluate the way he approached his investors later in life.

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Comic Review: Scrooge and Santa
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PS Hayes   |  @   |  
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Scrooge and Santa coverScrooge and Santa
Written by Matthew Wilson
Pencils & Inks by Josh Kenfield
Colors by Dan Smith & Josh Kenfield
Letters by Jehoaddan Strain & Josh Kenfield
Cover by Josh Kenfield
Arcana Studios
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Cover Price: $14.95

Scrooge and Santa is a delightful Christmas comic book that does everything that it sets out to do. It has charm, humor, and heart. Sometimes the story is a little bit confusing and lacking, but all in all, it’s a great Christmas read.

Matthew Wilson spins a Christmas yarn that is truly timeless. He updates the classic story, A Christmas Carol, but not in the usual way. Yes, there are all the elements of the Charles Dickens classic in there, but he also throws in some very unexpected and out place twists and turns. And, I’m happy to say, they turn out fantastic.

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Comic Review: The Evil Tree
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RoughJustice   |  
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Arcana Comics: The Evil TreeThe Evil Tree
Written by Eric Hendrix
Art by Daniel Thollin
Colors by Anna Sallstrom
Arcana Comics
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Cover Price: $14.95

The market for horror comics right now is brutally competitive. With books like Locke and Key, Green Wake, and Rebel Blood reinventing what can be done with a genre, competition is fierce. The Evil Tree, being an independent horror comic published by a small press, faces some challenges when stacked up against titles from Image Comics and IDW Publishing. Which is a shame. Even though The Evil Tree is a by the numbers horror story, this book’s expert writing proves that there is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned ghost story.

At its core, The Evil Tree is a very simple story. It is your standard unsettled ghost haunting the living as a means to eventually rest in peace. This book’s storyline is fairly cut and dry and, in this case, it is perfectly okay. Writer Erik Hendrix seems to understand that sometimes mastering a preexisting story can be more appealing than poorly tackling some high concept horror story. Why try to blow people’s minds by ruminating on the human condition if you can’t even get it right?

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Comic Review: The Praetorian
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Zenestex   |  
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The Praetorian coverThe Praetorian
Written by Ryan Foley
Art by Robert Gill
Colors by Aikau
Letters by Shawn DePasquale
Edited by Amanda Hendrix
Arcana Comics
Release Date: July 25, 2012
Cover Price: $19.95

The Praetorian is full of potential with a story romanticizing gladiatorial glory and democratic revolution. Unfortunately, the comic limps to a slow start and never hits its stride. I’m usually a sucker for “Power to the People” stories, which might explain my great disappointment with this book. 

The land of Desperian is, as the name implies, a desperate city-state ruled under the iron fist of the dark wizard, Lord Zoranthar. Valoriss Bladesong, an imprisoned foreign warrior sold into slavery, proves herself in battle.  She earns a shot at glory in the Desperian gladiator arenas. Bladesong and fellow gladiator, Flay, team up to dominate the blood-sport. They quickly capture the hearts and imaginations of Desperian’s citizens. An upstart rebel group recognizes Bladesong’s worth as the face of their revolution and recruits her services.  

...continue reading »
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Comic Review: The Ancient Oak
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Waerloga69   |  @   |  
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Arcana Comics: The Ancient OakThe Ancient Oak
Written by Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Art by Chris Uminga
Letters by Shawn DePasquale
Edited by Casey Jones
Arcana Comics
Release Date: August 29, 2012
Cover Price: $5.95

The Ancient Oak is a charming little graphic novel for all ages. I read this to my 8-year-old daughter and she loved it, definitely picking up on the moral of the story. Not to worry, though. This isn’t a preachy little book. Quite the opposite, it is a fun read with a point to be made.

I loved the tale and all of it’s Eco-friendliness. Centered around a young Princess, the story starts with her father, the King, cutting down a forest at record speed. Even after a warning, he continues until it seems he has destroyed the local climate. Luckily, the young Princess isn’t afraid to try to repair the damage. In the process, she learns a valuable lesson about doing her part to help nature.

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Comic Review: Champions of The Wild Weird West
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Spartacus!   |  
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Arcana Comics: Champions of The Wild Weird WestChampions of The Wild Weird West
Written and Created by Michael David Nelson and Erik Hendrix
Artwork and Color by George Kambadais
Lettering by Erik Hendrix and Amanda Hendrix
Edited by Amanda Hendrix
Arcana Comics
Cover Price $14.95

It’s tricky pulling off a team story. Does every character get equal time to shine, like in The Avengers? Is it actually a story about a team or is that a smokescreen and it’s really about a single protagonist who learns to be a part of a team, like every single 3 Musketeers/D’Artagnan movie I’ve ever seen? Champions of The Wild Weird West features an old western posse of seven distinct, interesting characters – just about any of whom could lead in a compelling series on their own – in a story pitting them against an equally varied mish-mash of foes with art that I’ll gush over below because I really, really dig it. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t quite enjoy the story itself, but like I said, team stories are tricky.

The five-issue mini-series from Arcana opens with a saloon fight between a samurai and bounty hunters. Let that last part sink in for a second. It’s a kick-ass action sequence that quickly proclaims this book to be a Sergio Leone-esque spaghetti western by way of Samurai Jack. The whole first third of the book involves train robberies, zombies, introducing the squad of odd-balls, and generally topping absurdity upon absurdity. Bandits accidentally let loose a plague of the living dead on a train going over a Native American burial ground infecting both the passengers and the corpses below. The Samurai Taro, the dashing and well to do adventurer New York Jack and his posse, Polikwaptaqwast, a young Native American shaman, and a masked supernatural figure named The Grey Gun converge at the scene with their own missions in mind. The newly formed Champions forge an alliance against the well to-do villains they quickly deduce were behind the attack.

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Comic Review: Ezra: Egyptian Exchange TPB
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Lucid Crash   |  
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Ezra: Egyptian ExchangeEzra: Egyptian Exchange
Written by Sean O’Reilly
Pencils by Alfonso Ruiz
Colors by Benny Fuentes
Letters by Sean O’Reilly
Arcana Studios
Original Release Date: July 14, 2010
Re-Release Date: May 12, 2012
Cover Price: $14.95

Fans of Arcana Studio’s favorite undead swashbuckling hottie Ezra will delight in this 104-page reprint of the entire original 2004 storyline Ezra: Egyptian Exchange. Collecting issues #1-4 along with Arcana Studio Presents Free Comic Book Day, special goodies include never before seen commentary, drawings, interviews, and an insider’s glance at the mysterious origins of the mercenary “born under the black sun.” She has shared the comic universe with other headliners 10th Muse and Kade, but here she is one woman show against pirates, cat people, an immortal Goddess, some crime bosses, and they are just as few of the adversaries trying to mess up Ezra’s day.

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Comic Review: All Fall Down
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Zenestex   |  
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Arcana Comics: All Fall Down coverAll Fall Down
Written by Casey Jones
Art by Jason Reeves, Brian Brinlee, Gian Fernando, Anvit, Pericles Junior, Barnaby Bagenda
Color by Cirque Studios, Al Jerek Torrijas
Letters by Andrew Diroll-Black
Edited by William T. Marks
Arcana Studios
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Cover Price: $19.95

Ah, the old “superheroes lose their powers” story. GoD’ers have undoubtedly seen this storyline hundreds of times. Nearly every comic hero must endure this rite of passage where they lose their power and prove that their heroism comes from more than just their super-strength and heat vision. Given the countless derivations of this concept, writer Casey Jones presents an amazingly unique twist on the one of the most common story angles in his debut comic, All Fall Down.

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