I’m going to let everyone in on a secret, I love the Cyberpunk genre, having been first introduced to it in college I voraciously read as many Cyberpunk novels as I could. Unfortunately, since we live in the future that most of the books are set in, and still don’t have the ability to graft retractable razors into our hands, the genre all but died. So when I saw Mine to Avenge on Kickstarter I thought, hmm, black folk and Cyberpunk, might give this a whirl. Truth be told I’m glad I did.
Our story starts in New Orleans, Louisiana circa 1863. We meet a young girl named Leah, who is running down an alley while being chased by someone or something otherworldly only to be saved by a priest who lies on her behalf, throwing her pursuer who happens to be her owner off her trail. Flash forward to Tunguska, Russia in the year 2154 where we meet our protagonists Prya and Travis, two members of an organization known as the Retribution Cabal. The duo is on a mission to save a young girl who went missing on a post-college backpacking trip. From here our story takes a decidedly spooky turn.
When I finished my initial read through this comic, I thought one thing, ‘Damn, it’s over already?’ Writer Robert Jeffery II does a great job of introducing the characters of Prya and Travis who have a relationship laced with witty banter and playful needling. Such is the case when Prya finds out that Travis’s ship AI is named Sade and takes her sweet time making fun of him using song titles from the AI’s namesake. Jeffery breaks right into the action with a scene like something out of ‘The Ritual’ as the duo carve a blood path through the girl’s kidnappers, a group of cultists so weird looking they’d make Lovecraft smile. I also appreciate Travis’ responses to the cult leader’s racially charged remarks, both verbally and physically.
The art in this book is extremely crisp, with a production value rivaling any “mainstream” book out there. Artists Mateo Illuminati and Loris Ravina do a great job of bringing this world to life, especially during the fight scenes. The action is depicted as very straightforward but far from boring and the character designs are sleek yet rugged when the moment calls for it. The design of the cultists’ leader looks equal parts horrifying and ridiculous but fits the scene perfectly. The locale designs give me a funky ‘Blade Runner’ meets Wakanda vibe and that fits perfectly in this cyberpunk, dark fantasy world.
I genuinely enjoyed this first issue, however, I do have some problems with certain aspects of it.
The story isn’t as focused as I’m used to, yes Prya and Travis are dope, but I don’t know why they do what they do. What is the Retribution Cabal’s to Leah? What does the return of the Lalaurie’s mean? How did the RC form? And what have they been doing prior to the return of this family? These are a few of the questions I would have liked touched upon a least a little in the first issue. Other than these things I enjoyed this first outing and hope that this is an ongoing series and not just a mini, so we can get into the history of the world and characters, as well as how they shape the current story.
You can purchase a copy of Mine to Avenge: The Book of Layla issue# 1 from Gumroad and RobertKJeffrey.com
This review was written by Ra'Chaun Rogers on behalf of Concept Moon Studios. If you enjoy his comic reviews click here or more