01/07/2012. Contributed by Andy Whitaker
pub: Arcana Comics. 74 page graphic novel. Price: $14.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-926914-86-2.
check out website: www.arcanacomics.com
The setting is the US-Mexico border and the traffic of illegal immigrants into the USA and possibly in the near future. I say possibly, as apart from an infestation of super-beings (some good, some bad) and futuristic technology, there is a lot of similarities between the USA depicted in the novel and the one we see on TV. The back cover gives the following synopsis, 'To save the life of his granddaughter, retired super-hero James Cummings must face not only the mistakes of his past, but also a rouge government agency called Black Messiah that's determined to preserve their own perverted version of the American Dream!'
As can be expected from Arcana Studios, the artwork is good but certainly not their best. Some depictions of faces are not quite what you would expect and tend to stand out as being awful compared to other pages. I'm going to be upfront here and admit I didn't enjoy this novel. The problem is not with the artwork but with the story. It follows the exploits of retired super-hero James Cummings aka 'Load' as his War's Chosen team goes up against the Black Messiah organisation. It is the very same organisation which appears to have created most of the super-heroes through dodgy experiments. We learn this and other facts through fairly lengthy dialogues between the characters, usually while they are trying to kill each other. All this information is required, as there appears to be quite a bit of history between the War's Chosen team and the Black Messiah organisation. To put it another way we have joined the plot half way through and need to catch up. I certainly got the feeling I was reading volume 2 and should really have read volume 1 first. Unfortunately, as far as I can see there is no volume 1.
I would like to comment more on the plot but it is very hard to do when you don't fully understand what is going on. The Black Messiah organisation appears to be sponsoring very draconian immigration laws aimed at preserving the US dream for wealthy white people. As I have mentioned, there is a lot of past history that gets referred to which gets to be quite annoying. What's the significance of one of the characters grandfather being the 13th kid? I don't know but it is mentioned a few times from page 57 onwards so it might be significant and, then again, it might not. Some of the characters are related to each other but trying to work out who is related to who is a puzzle in itself made worse by the interchangeable use made of real names and super-hero names.
The plotline stumbles along from one fight scene to another as the War's Chosen team underestimate the Black Messiah organisation and its leader, Victoria Reagent. Eventually, the novel concludes leaving the story unfinished. As I said earlier, it is the story that is the weak point with this novel. It is too complicated and the reader is only given half the information they need to make sense of it.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA