Written by Mark Abnett.
Art by P.R. Dedelis.
Colours by Liezl Buenaventura.
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Edited by Verona-Meiana Putaraniu.
(Extra logos and designs by Seb Wikaraka Peni, Craig Peterson and Hekiera Mareoa).
Published by Aroha Comics.
28 pages - Full Colour - £4.00.
The Story - ' A world once destroyed is now reborn. A world where the gifts of the gods have been stolen by man and made their own. Now those Gods have returned and they are not happy with what they have found'
(Pages 2 & 3).
The Review - This is the second book by Aroha Comics and written by it's founder Mark Abnett that I have reviewed in the last couple of months. This is my favourite of the two and shows playful reverence to the myths and legends of a country far from our own but somewhere that Mark used to call home before moving to Scotland.
This is a twenty-eight page comic that makes no excuses for the complications of it's mythology that it presents on the page boldly to the reader. I spent some time Googling the terms and names whilst reading and it did add an extra dimension to the story. I would say that for most readers (who are not trying their best to get stuff straight to write a fair and balanced review) this might be a little much? If you are a bit of a folklore/myths and mysteries junkie it might well be up your street. In fact in the inside front cover introduction Mark Abnett directs readers to www.maoridictionary.co.nz to 'enhance your enjoyment'. Bravo sir!
Don't let the richness of the back story colour your preconceptions to what is actually a 'getting a super team together' opening issue. This is an approach that can often be a fun opener and there are elements of humour in the last act selection of the team. Some of the writing in the nine panel grid 'New Faces' sequence for me was a little on the nose and trying for a laugh it didn't quite hit. But the issue develops on from that and ends on a nice splash page that should lead to some interesting battles/punch ups and story beats. In fact the issue has some nice moments of personality and also of building the tension to the battles ahead.
I can see some Ed McGuiness in the art by P.R. Dedelis and it reminds me of some good web-comics art you can find with some anime/manga influences. The page two and three opening splash (see above) is stylistically and visually a great place to jump between a myth being told to kids and being presented with those telling it on the beach. However, there are a couple of panels that I found had me trying to work out what they represented. The overview (?) of the smoking crystal on pages six and seven being a good example of this. This is an overview of a large structure (explained later in the issue) but had me scratching my head for a few minutes. Many of the panels could also do with some added backgrounds in my opinion.
(Pages 6 & 7).
The colours often side heavily on the reds and they can become a bit much on a couple of pages with little else to identify what we are reading. But in the most part they are used well to identify characters and later on their personalities/powers. They also add to the feelings of wide-open skies and fire-based legendary gods. I've never been to New Zealand and this isn't putting me off at all!
On the whole I had fun with this and it is indeed pleasant to see the myths of countries and areas that we rarely see developed into the pages of a comic. The first issue is a slick package and adds some interesting material in the back matter as well as some teases of the inked line-work from issue 2. I'll certainly be watching to see where this series goes next.
You can find a copy of this first issue with more about Aroha Comics (as well as some pretty great looking videos of computer generated moving panels) at https://www.arohacomics.com/ You can also find this company of Twitter @ArohaComics
Many thanks for reading.