Novelist, comic book writer, and also comic book reviewer for www.BrokenFrontier.com, also website marketing coach for the Online Marketing Solutions company Push Traffic dot com. Incidentally, I am also the worst writer in the world.
Well, I've banner waved Michael Bracco's epic masterpiece NOVO enough before, now here's a quite thorough review of his latest:
Novo Volume 2: The Pride (ADVANCE)
Review by Dave Baxter, posted October 23, 2008
Words: Michael S. Bracco
Pencils: Michael S. Bracco
Inks: Michael S. Bracco
Story Title: The Pride
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Release Date: December 00, 2008
Bracco is back. A mere season after the outrageous beginning of his ambitious 7-volume epic, Novo (though it’s 8-volume if you include the, uniquely, published-first stand-alone prequel called Birth ), Michael S. Bracco returns with another 88-page black-and-white tome which continues the adventures of his little Earth-born sole survivor. But wait…he’s the sole survivor? Then, uhm, what is this second volume about? Hell, that was half the fun of Volume One’s climax—what was coming next? A new planet, new species, new conflict, and yet, some things feel oddly familiar….
Novo finds himself washed up on the planet Xennon, where he meets the brutal, warrior cat-woman, Xephonia, and her son, the rightful heir to the Xennon throne. But dark supernatural cat-like creatures hunt the lot of them, and Novo Volume 2: The Pride concerns itself with our trio’s desperate race to survive within an uncharted wilderness, hounded by unknown enemies wielding abilities undefined. It’s 88 pages of tension, action, chase sequences, bloodletting, and, in the spirit of the best of Roddenberry and Bradbury, a heavy-cream dollop of cultural philosophy, existentialism, and frenzied fantasy.
Heroic Kamandi-figure (yes, I just used Kamandi’s name like Christ’s) Novo, having just escaped the folly of his own stratified Earth peoples, finds himself swept up in a clash of traditions and ancient animosities which mirror the very vista of tragic casualty he’d left behind at the end of Volume One. Can Novo put things right on this new planet? Can anything ever break blood vendettas and cultivate seemingly impossible peace? These are the very questions Bracco explored, up close, in Birth, and then mused upon the ultimate consequences of in Novo Volume One , now brought into crisper focus in Volume Two by mixing up the setting and details, but even little Novo can’t miss the startling similarities.
Bracco weaves a magnificent sequel (or is it threequel?), a story symmetric to what has come before and yet, thrillingly, in effect an unanticipated plunge into whole-cloth new territory. But it’s disquieting territory as well: this is the Wizards of the black-and-white comics crowd, the innocent and cute-looking alien lad getting hip-deep in the realities of a universe wherein justice is an ideal and not a force of nature, where mortality confronts everyone, even a would-be hero. Much as with Birth, Bracco is able to go toe-to-toe with Ron E. Howard and Burroughs in blending social criticism with head-to-toe fantasy, and the mix of pulp adventure, light-heartedness, and deadly serious danger should please anyone who’s ever marveled over those classic writers’ ability to ignore all such supposed divisions in fiction.
The hand-drawn dialogue is utterly fantastic, both in content and form, funny, wry, intelligent, dramatic, and it only enhances the greatest element of any Bracco work: the art. A breif digression: my girlfriend, only vaguely comics-initiated herself, was sitting over my shoulder while I cracked open Volume Two to read, and after maybe three seconds of staring at the first page she announced: “That’s looks really incredible.” She proceeded to pace by every few minutes after that, to look at another page and then another. She had a few more choice testimonials to give to the work before she and me were done with the book, but needless to say, Bracco’s sequential pages are like watching Picasso paint. They’re captivating, pleasing, overwhelming, and ultimately cathartic to take in. They illustrate his story with utter ease and absolute craft. Bracco is, in a nutshell, both in writing and art, Frank Miller meets Sam Kieth. If this man isn’t an Eisner winner within the next decade, I’ll eat my laptop’s cathode-ray tube. Which would kill me. So as you can see, I’m serious.
Even considering the violence (there's a bit of it, true to any story that purports to peer into the depths of human fallibility), this is a fable for us all, even for our children, especially for our children to grow up with and to understand as an inherent part of their character: this is not the way we should live. Schisms between nations, bloodlines, classes, people need to end. There will forever be conflict, but never-ending? Based on past or imagined slights? Carried onto the sons and daughters of future generations? Traditions that disallow for honest evolution, either biological or anthropological? Phooey. That’s what Novo Volume 2: The Pride is all about. And more. But to tell more would be tell-ing, and believe me, you really want to check out these books and receive the surprises they have in store for yourself. They have a ton in store.
Pre-order Novo Volume Two: The Pride now from your retailer until the end of this month (Oct. 2008) with Diamond code OCT083787