Staff: Jose Pallares and Muguel Caceres
So today we have some straight up barbarian porn (like… schlocky barbarian stuff, not actual porn) from Jose Pallares and Muguel Caceres in the form of “Bram the Yacoi”. This part is subtitled “The Last Eden”. This is the first issue (as I only do first issues) and it kind of stood out from the cesspool of “gritty, dark, horror comics” I keep getting (hence why there hasn’t be a review in a bit) so I’m going to give it a shot. Let’s see how it pans out.
Note: This comic is not PG-13. Probably a decent R (lots of blood, little nudity, etc). Nothing you wouldn’t see on late night TV though.
The art is nothing shy of awesome. Miguel, the artist, uses a monochromatic (black, white, and a single color) color scheme to great effect. Even on the first page of the comic we have a fantastic display of his ability to convey motion and create dynamic poses as well as establish a good use of panel structure for artist purposes. And the detail this guy puts into stuff! Hot damn! There is also the matter of him giving very distinctive character designs. In the midst of a brawl, I can tell characters apart thanks to his very easily identifiable character designs. That is to say, no two characters look the same, even at a distance. And that’s a very hard thing to do with people who you want to visually share similar elements (like a culture, team, or other group). Still, he manages to pull it off.
Writing / Story:
Jose’s writing matches Miguel’s art in tone. The narration panels are very poetic, dramatic, and grandiose while the choice of dialogue is much more guttural and concise. It reads like a good Hyborian adventure comic (Conan the Barbarian and borrows more than a little from it. It borrows a lot from it, maybe more than it should. Bram might as well be Conan and is largely interchangeable with any number of generic barbarians. I didn’t get a lot of characterization from him other than “is really good at fighting” and “will take revenge”. He uses the plot to give us set pieces however and that’s not a terrible way to use it. That having been said… Jose does a fantastic job of capturing that tone/style of character and I really enjoyed it. He is one of the few writers who I’ve run across whose mastery of languages improves upon the narrative rather than hinders it. In fact, the plot is largely pretty generic and ignorable (guy betrays guy, guy gets revenge) but his dialogue is so good you kind of don’t notice.
As I mentioned in the art section of this book, Miguel uses the panel layout to his advantage artistically. He lets things protrude from them, chances the shape of overlay panels to accentuate the action. That is the hallmark of real skill and a creative use of them that helps create a cohesive aesthetic. There are a few times where this works against it however (see page 5 of the PDF) when artistic liberties with the panel placement makes it a little difficult to tell what action is happening first (but it looks quite sexy…).
So I’m a sucker for 80s pulpy stuff (as you guys know). This comic scratches that itch in a big way. It is pulpy, schlocky, barbarian-flavored wonderfulness. The dialogue is great but the protagonist’s characterization and overall plot leave something to be desired. That being said- it is backed up by one of the best indy artist’s I’ve reviewed- a guy who GETS what it means to establish and maintain a cohesive aesthetic. So my verdict? If conan style stuff is your bag- buy it even if it costs you the blood from your arm to do so. If not, it is still something you should pick up for the fun it brings and the art (seriously- I would love an artbook of Miguel’s work).