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.
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).
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.