Tag Archive: TKO Studios reviews


  

Review by C.J. Bunce

One stylistic feature stands out in TKO Studios′ second wave of comic book titles released this month: Although each series is available in a comic book format, the stories read like graphic novels, as if the need to have the six chapter breaks is only an excuse to have an attractive corresponding cover.  It’s not a bad thing.  In fact, with frequent two-issue arcs and eight-issue, ten-issue, or even more issues in a complete story like you’d find in traditional publishing, the six-issue template is easy to get accustomed to.  Readers may notice this the most in The Banks, a crime story that spans three generations of an African-American family of thieves in Chicago, written by Roxane Gay (Black Panther: World of Wakanda), with artwork by Ming Doyle (The Kitchen), and colors by Jordie Bellaire (Hawkeye, The Wake).

Evenly paced with not a lot of spikes of action in each issue/chapter, The Banks is a quiet tale–a character study of different personalities reacting to a new opportunity from different points of view.  Celia is the thirty-something straight shooter who, despite her best efforts, can’t break through the glass ceiling at her supposedly legit career job.  Her grandfather was a well-known ex-con, but it turns out so was her grandmother and mother.  So when Celia is passed over for promotion again, she decides following in the family business is worth a try.

  

The challenge of the story for the comic book format is that the story requires a lot of conversations between characters, and not a lot of set pieces.  Without the typical comic book theatrics, exotic locations, and choreographed action scenes, this feels more like a novel that happens to be told in a visual format.  The story is a good one–this has a Luke Cage vibe and is structured like the recent Shaft movie featuring three generation of men in the Shaft family (made famous originally in the 1970s movie).  You may find yourself casting the characters with actors for the TV version the publisher no doubt hopes to net from at least one of these new titles (think Pam Grier, Rosario Dawson, Simone Missick, and Nicole Beharie or Tessa Thompson).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The next six-issue series that is also released as a complete graphic novel from publisher TKO Studios is a science fiction story called Sentient.  Familiar comic book writer Jeff Lemire (Descender, Old Man Logan, Green Arrow) has a new story to tell that is a mash-up of this year’s earlier Grant Sputore-directed, direct-to-Netflix film I Am Mother (reviewed here at borg), the plotting and visuals of the gutsy Orbiter 9 (reviewed here), and the desperation of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s ill-fated transport ship story, Passengers (reviewed here).  As the idea of a human trip to Mars has gained interest, we’ve seen an uptick in the sub-genre delving into the actual work required to make such a far-off journey possible, along with a host of horrific possibilities that may confront us.  It’s materialized in films like Alien: Covenant plus the Lost in Space TV series reboot.  Sentient is also the latest take on Lord of the Flies, William Golding’s story of kids governing themselves without adult supervision.

 

Just as the space frigate USS Montgomery clears the barrier where communications are broken off from both Earth and their destination colony for an entire year, the ship is sabotaged.  The artificial intelligence on the ship, a female voice called Valarie, attempts to coordinate a recovery, but it becomes too late–all of the adults on the ship are killed as a result of the chaos caused by the saboteur, and what remains are the cordoned off children, who Valarie must train to continue the mission.  Even the A.I. has her own misgivings–she’s just not programmed to become a surrogate mother.  Fortunately the oldest, Lil (who just celebrated a birthday and could be 12 or 13 years old), and Isaac, the son of the saboteur, are young but smart, the kind of kids who probably went through Space Camp before their mission.  These aren’t naïve kids–they immediately understand the pressure and responsibility that falls on them.

Lemire’s steady and thoughtful pacing sets up artist Gabriel Walta (Doctor Strange) for a great visual showpiece, highlighting a style and colors that may have you thinking this is the next iteration of Matt Kindt’s DeptH series–even the character faces look like they were drawn by Kindt with his trademark clean and simple imagery and muted tones.

Here are some preview pages, courtesy of TKO Studios:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

TKO Studios is the new comic book publisher that surprised the industry early this year with an entirely new way to entertain readers.  They release four books at once in a binge format paralleling Netflix TV streaming shows, and they offer each story available in a trade paperback edition and as six separate comic book issues in a boxed set.  Readers buy whichever format appeals to them.  The last positive is the publisher’s slightly oversized format, a size that allows more artwork space per page while still feeling like a comic book.  But this is all formatting.  The substance doesn’t pull any punches, with TKO bringing in some familiar, beloved writers and artists for their first round (check out our reviews of those series linked below).  So does the second round measure up to the first? It was worth the wait, and fans will be pleased.

We’ll begin with Eve of Destruction, a zombie survival story in the vein of The Walking Dead, but mixing in several other influences and concepts along the way.  The story is written by TKO’s CEO and co-publisher Salvatore A. Simeone and Steve Simeone, with lettering by Ariana Maher.  The heavy lifting comes from artists Nik Virella, Isaac Goodhart, and Ruth Redmond who fill six issues with non-stop action.  And if you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing, you might agree the creatures have more than a little in common with that horror film.

 

On the night of an important school dance, a girl’s separated parents, both women, are feuding over how each is contributing to the parenting the girl.  A hurricane is closing in off the coast, and with it comes a change in biology fueled by changes in the Earth’s environmental conditions that are triggered by this new storm.  The nature of the threat is specific and unusual–it is only targeting men and boys, and the results are on track to produce a kind of extinction forecasted in the title.  Although it could be a story about feminism, it doesn’t have any time to even broach the ramifications of this threat.  This is a story about survival in the first hour of a disaster.

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