Creator/Writer/Layout Assists/Colors: Jeremy Scott Browning
Illustrator: Leo Gondim
Publisher: Short Fuse Media/Genuine Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Ajax: Awakening #1 is the first of a five-issue mini-series. This book is a wild superhero action book. Fans of any of the major superhero publishers will find a ton to love here.
Ajax Awakening is part of a larger universe of superheroes under the Genuine Comics/Short Fuse Media banner, and this entry is a big, action-packed story to kick off one of their characters.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
After being put under the control of a nefarious villain, Ajax has been freed. He sets out to punish those who used him as their tool while dealing with the guilt of being manipulated.
As Ajax’s thirst for revenge is being quenched, we get to see his backstory: where he comes from, what he’s done under the control of his villain, and the way he was liberated.
But, mostly, Ajax Awakening is about awesome, superhero comic fisticuffs in all of its glory.
Ajax is a solid character. He has an emotional backstory, and there’re times where Ajax really shows his hurt; it’s something that makes him easy to root for.
The writing feels very classic. The way that Ajax and Ruckus talk to each other throughout their fight really is a bunch of fun.
I’m a sucker for a bright color palette and that comes through here. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it takes place across so many different settings (farms/cities/lairs) and it makes for a lot of opportunity to make the colors fun and it’s not wasted.
The action is NUTS. The sequences are so much fun. You could have sold me on #2 on that alone.
The color work uses a really bright palette, something that I think often goes underutilized in comics. Bright palettes really help pages stand out and it makes the whole book more fun to read.
I really liked the costume design. A superhero is only as good as their costume and they really pulled that off well.
The lettering is great! Indie superhero books sometimes miss the mark on the lettering, but this book sticks the landing with it on every page.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The beginning is a little clunky. There’s a mixture of reference captions and narration captions and it just feels rocky.
There’s a lot going on here. The book has a lot of backstory for Ajax, but its largely with characters we don’t really know because there’s a commitment to an establishment of a bigger universe. It’s difficult because Ajax is plenty interesting, but along with the badass fight he’s in, we also have to keep up with an interwoven backstory full of characters I haven’t been properly introduced to, so I don’t have a complete idea of what’s happening.
Ajax: Awakening #1 suffers a trap many indie superhero books do: it feels a little closed in by the ambition of its own universe. You have a fun character with an emotional backstory! We don’t need to see all the connective tissue of your universe yet! I’d really like to see this book get more isolated as the mini-series continues. You have a big, cool universe in mind, I get that, but please let me fall in love with this corner of it first.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It has a troubled protagonist that is dealing with the guilt he feels for doing terrible things and rage for being manipulated in the first place.
But also, the violence. The violence is very good.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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