PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of BANJAX #2 from Action Lab Entertainment‘s Danger Zone imprint. Available Wednesday, July 3rd, the creative team for this issue features writing from Rylend Grant, art from Fábio Alves, colors by Edson Ferreira, and lettering from HdE.
32 pgs./ M / FC
CHAPTER 2: “Where’s Our Hero?”
When cancer-ridden former superhero Laird Mason launches a violent and misguided Death Wish-like campaign to purge the city of super-villains before he dies, his straight-laced protégé, Abel Raines, is tasked with bringing him in. The problem? Raines isn’t remotely up to the task. A story presented exclusively from the maniacally twisted point of view of a man who hasn’t slept in over seven days.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
A man’s true wealth can be defined by the good he does in the world. But what is “good”? Can it be defined? Or is it merely subjective?
Abel Raines – the superhero known as Gyro, protégé to Banjax, and successful entrepreneur. A man who saw business opportunities in his social status and capitalized on it. But success and fame can be overwhelming; it’s hard to manage, easy to lose focus, and can potentially take you to some dark places. Compound that with a man who hasn’t slept in a week, a mentor run amok, and the residents of his city pleading for their hero to return, there’s a chance this might go off the rails a bit.
BANJAX #2 gives us the other side of the Mason/Raines (Banjax/Gyro) coin to gain insight on what success and the life of a superhero has done over the years to Abel. It’s a nice contrast to last month’s premiere when we learned the toll it has taken on Laird. Plus, this issue sets the stage for what will most likely be an action-packed, intense melee of emotions over the next two issues that honestly could swing either way. Will the younger hero and his Cerberus teams bring in the loose cannon that once was the savior of the city? Or will the battle-hardened veteran school the kid and turn the tables back in his favor? I, for one, cannot wait to see how this unfolds!
Farewell, Bitch-Ass Martha, we hardly knew ye.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, perhaps in a different manner or set of words, but Rylend Grant’s forte is his delivery and style. Issue two flipped the script by offering us another protagonist’s perspective with somewhat of a juxtaposed viewpoint from the one Laird Mason (Banjax) had in issue one (though it did draw some parallels). It’s an appealing concept that, when pulled off properly, can make for a truly dynamic reading experience. And somehow, Grant continues to come through 100%. He finds a way to pack a $#!& ton of story in every issue, giving you more value for your dollar than likely any comic book on the market right now. Let me repeat myself for those in the back…Grant brings it EVERY issue. There are no slow parts, drawn-out character building, allowing the narrative to eventually come to fruition. Rylend hits you with goods, leaves you wanting more, and then delivers it again in spades.
When a reader can become engrossed, feel engaged with the story or the characters, that’s a pretty good indicator that I’ll become invested in the series. I think any casual reader all the way up to a hardcore fan would want that from any book they checked out. Do yourself a favor, check out BANJAX. And while you’re at it, check out ABERRANT. Not only will you be impressed with the material, you’ll see just what a comic book can be. A new bar has been set on the indie scene and its current placeholder is Rylend Grant.
And by the way, loved the poker nods, Mr. Grant. 😉
Fábio Alves is crushing it with his illustrations. Not only is there a lot of great definition in the characters, but the layout and panel sequencing is a thrill in which to follow along. Not one who settles for good enough, Alves puts his full abilities on display page after page. His linework and subsequent shading/inks create the ideal mood for each setting. He and colorist Edson Ferreira make for a great duo in capturing this fantastic vision of Grant’s and making a statement with it with their signature touches.
What impressed me most about Fábio’s work in issue two was that I really took notice of how this artist is extremely talented with positioning. The angles of the “comic lens,” if you will. How the reader sees the characer(s) on each page from any shot. On countless occasions. From practically any angle or viewpoint imaginable and Alves proves he can conquer the depth, the angling, the distance(s), and the area of any given scene. Scratch what I said earlier, I’m beyond impressed.
As much as I have enjoyed Edson Ferreira’s colors in this series so far, it’s his lack of colors that has me in awe. Most superhero titles, and many other comic books out today, have a lot of bold, striking colors. Vibrant pinks & purples, energy behind the in-your-face colors I see a lot. Not knocking that style at all, as in most instances it’s apt for the particular issue/title. But with BANJAX, Edson brings an emotional element to the narrative. The softer or more subdued nature of the tones add to the feelings Rylend wants to express and that Fábio is convey. Ferreira is also adept at understanding light sources and wisely honing in on them when adding certain hues or shading. His work gives a lot of definition to the characters, which really fleshes them out for the reader to enjoy. Well done, sir.
HdE has always been solid, with Grant’s two seasons of ABERRANT and both issues here with BANJAX. What caught my eye in issue two was the methodical placement and layouts for his lettering. It just stood out to me and made me realize the significance a talented letterer can bring to a comic book. With as much dialogue as BANJAX has needed to deliver in each issue, and even moreso the first-person internal thoughts (via caption boxes), this is no cakewalk to achieve and maintain throughout. But HdE delivers flawlessly page after page, providing ample room for the illustrations, not detracting from any one scene, and he always finds a way to include a HUGE amount of text in many panels without it feeling cramped or too busy. Really standout work!
This introspective look by each of the heroes in BANJAX brings such a clever way of storytelling seldom seen in comics. Within a miniseries, it’s even more rare. Some have stated that “even evil thinks it’s doing right,” but by applying that here with superheroes struggling and making what some would say “questionable” decisions. Where is the line between justice and revenge? What one person sees as being helpful could truly look like betrayal by the other.
What the creative team produces in issue two of BANJAX is yet another solid, memorable, and engaging reading experience. Four collaborative minds melding together in a smorgasbord of intensity and beauty. It’s riveting, it’s impressive, and it’s what I’d love more comics to be.
Final Orders Due: Jul 15, 2019
In Shops: Aug 28, 2019
32 pgs./ M / FC
CHAPTER 3: “A Mission from God”
Hollywood screenwriter/Aberrant-scribe Rylend Grant’s delightfully twisted deconstruction of the superhero genre kicks things up a notch. Abel Raines’ gratuitously armed and armored Cerberus teams hunt crusader-turned-crazed-vigilante Laird Mason day and night. Just when it looks like all is lost, America’s favorite malicious and malevolent masked lunatic gets a key assist from the unlikeliest of allies.
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Writer – Rylend Grant
Artist – Fábio Alves
Colorist – Edson Ferreira