Brawler from Time Bomb Comics
The introduction to Brawler describes it as being inspired by a childhood encounter with Warrior – the legendary Quality anthology comic which introduced Marvelman, V for Vendetta and many more. So obviously a blog called Daredevils and Warriors, named for the two great episodic comics of the era could not resist such an offering.
Warrior offered a few pages per story, but each story was a dive into a new and wondrous world. Sci-fi, dystopia, sword and sorcery, superheroes…something for everyone but crucially all had a consistently high standard of writing and art. A few went on to be among the most important comics of the century. So, no pressure then!
It’s totally unfair to hold Brawler to the same standards as Warrior of course, but I have to say I was impressed. The production quality of Brawler is great. It looks very professional with an amazing cover by Staz Johnson – I loved his mash-up of this illustration and an old copy of Battle which he put out on his Twitter a couple of months ago. The colours are bright and sharp in a way that Warrior would never have been able to match with the printing technology available to it. One slight exception is Frankenstein, Texas which is not coloured, which does jar a little.
Brawler features seven different strips – carefully selected by publisher Steve Tanner of Time Bomb Comics. All are original works, not published elsewhere, although two are new stories from already published series. I had not read any of them before though.
28AR by writer Richmond Clements and artist Nigel Dobbyn looks at a post-Ragnarok world with teams of gods on snowmobiles battling with ice-giants on mutant polar-bears. Like War of the Realms but with thankfully no Wolverine this packs a lot of ideas into five pages. The art looks impressive with an icy colour scheme lit by high explosives and blood.
Major Rakhana has art by Pete Woods, story by Steve Tanner and lettering by Bolt-01. It is a Rice-Burroughs style tale of Victorian imperialists fighting alien alligator-men on the Planet Venus. When the patrolling redcoats are ‘rescued’ by Major Rakhana and her concubine Sanjay they are in for a shock. The insertion of an Indian woman clearly in charge of the men and fighting a patriarchal alien culture is a great twist. Pete Woods does a great job with the art, and I’m sure the theme was a lot of fun to draw.
Banshee Space Exorcist from writer Katie Cunningham with art by Grace Toscano and letters by Bolt-01 brings us to a remote space station. An uncanny blend of sci-fi and celtic mythology takes on issues around corporate power and the tendency of humanity to be rather inhumane. I loved the colours – ethereal green and blue as a banshee and a kelpie battle in the clouds of an Ice Giant planet.
Amnesia Agents is one of the stories to have been previously published as a solo story although this is an all new tale. Jason Cobley is the writer and art is from James Gray. This story sees our time-travelling heroes arriving on the battle fields of World War One in pursuit of a ‘forget-fox’ who is stealing memories. It reminded me of the type of series you might catch on TV at a certain time of day, aimed at younger viewers but with plenty to entertain adults as well.
Fortune is a tale of space-faring drama from the Alex Automatic team of writer Fraser Campbell and artist James Corcoran with colour from James Gray and lettering from Nigel Dobbyn. Fortune has the feel of classic sci-fi series like Blake’s Seven. This is another story that packs a lot into a few pages. There are so many ideas here and I hope that we will be able to read more tales of the Capybara in future. Art and colour work together brilliantly – the term Kirbyesque is surely overused but I think it is fitting here.
Frankenstein, Texas from writer Dan Whitehead and artist David Hitchcock with letters by Nigel Dobbyn blends classic horror themes with the Wild West. “The strangest town you never heard of” has featured previously in a graphic novel of the same name and a little more information for those of us unfamiliar with that work could have been useful. That said, it didn’t take long to get the concept and the tale rattles along nicely with some wild scenes of Western monsters. The only black and white strip in Brawler the pencilled artwork has a subtle quality and David Hitchcock’s figurative work is excellent.
Brawler concludes with a very different tale. Keiko Panda from artist Mitz and writer Jason Cobley is a video-game like story of a martial-arts panda whom one does not feel has the voice of Jack Black. The art is colourful and dynamic but I did feel that I was missing a lot of references.
We even get a short story to illustrate the cover from Richard A Clements – a drama of wartime time-travelling dinosaurs of course.
Brawler is packed full of ideas with some stunning art and crucially it has a diverse range of stories. It looks great and has a professional feel. If you missed out on the Kickstarter then grab a copy at a con or from Time Bomb Comics.