Review by Kristopher Johnson
American Nature Presents
Cover art: Steve Seeley
Publisher: Bogus Books
Story and art: Ralph Niese
In Athens, Greece during the setting of tomorrow, the native people are hailing The Wise God Mediokrates, who is represented as a huge stone head with a large coin on his forehead. Our heroine, Maria Lionza, explains to her companion, The Young Time Traveler (TT) that he will give the people what they have been praying for all year round. He speaks and pukes up all this old garbage that is supposed to pass off as food. The people are CLEARLY upset, and don’t know what to do with themselves. Maria knows something’s up, and finds out the coin on Mediokrate’s forhead is a mind control device. TT hands her a crowbar and she pops it off. Mediokrates apologizes and gives the people what they really wanted: Weapons. Guns, grenades, and clubs for everyone! Maria and TT decide it’s wise to move, so they are last seen trying to by Gelato in Italy with this massive, mind control coin.
How funny is this!? I loved it. I favor stories that are short and to the point, and can still give me the emotion the creators were gunning for (ha, pun). I was expecting something interesting at the end, but I did not expect warfare. The female lead was likable, and her friend was adorable. I love a lady that can problem solve! The art is fantastic. The use of bright colors won me over. From the sunset on the first and last panel, to dark pink shot of Mediokrates with the dark shadows and the yellow mouth (and this was supposed to be him back to his senses! Scary!).
R.A.D. in Time
Story: Austin Tinius and Robert Salinas
Art: Antonia Brandao
Edward Einstein, no relation, has a grand master plan. If cavemen discovered the wheel and fire much earlier than recorded, how different would the world be in present time of 1969? His time machine takes him to 2 million B.C., and he encounters 3 cavemen. He shows them a small wheel and makes a fire, but the men have other plans. They hit him with the wheel, set him on fire, and take his time machine. They travel to the future where they are greeted by aliens who have been waiting on them for thousands of centuries (As evidenced by a cool monument of the men on the time machine). They dress the cavemen and enhance their brain function. The aliens updated the time machine, and presented them with the meaning of life: Have an awesome time. The aliens also name the men Ron, Al, and Dougie, and called them Really Awesome Dudes as a group. As R.A.D. left to travel, Edward shows up (half burnt to a crisp), and is aided by the aliens. R.A.D. travel through time and space, and spend a decade in Los Angeles where they don’t want to leave. The time machine warns them that they should not stay in one place for too long. Meanwhile, Edward is turned into a cyborg, and learns the aliens gave away his machine. He shoots them out of rage, and stumbles upon the R.A.D. monument, declaring revenge.
What a concept! I think about stuff like that pretty often. How different would the present be if history was just even a little different? It would have been really cool to see how it would have been if Edward’s time machine wasn’t hijacked, but it took a turn for an interesting narrative. I appreciated that the cavemen weren’t written as completely stupid like the usual perception. I thought in my head that it could only go 2 ways: They accept Edward’s presentations and he goes back to present day, or he could be seen as a threat and the plan backfires. It was a jerk move to shoot the aliens though. They save his life, and he shoots them because they were following a prophesy their kind had been waiting on for thousands of years? Now we have a villain! Also, props to the 2-way R.A.D. acronym! I would like another issue of this comic so I can know what R.A.D. did to have such a supreme legacy!
Stories: Marc Koprinarov and David Landsberger
Art: Greg and Fake Petre
I present to you, the weirdest basketball game ever. On one side, you have the jockeys, who are 3 short people and a centaur. On the other side are the Truckers, aka the most unmotivated slackers. The Trucker with possession of the ball is drinking and hitting a bong, while the other team literally kicks him down and dominates the game. Most of his teammates don’t seem to care either, except for Phylo, the tall guy with a hamburger for a head. They won last year, but have since been slacking away and spending their money on women and/or drugs. To get them off their asses, he tells them to win for Dutch McKenzie. Dutch is a legend who is the ultimate example of a baller and a partier, and apparently gave his life to help free Cuba. His speech inspires the guys, even though their individual motivations mean almost nothing. Phylo, however, needs to win first prize back for his lady’s grandad. They head back to the court, and the team is back in the game!
The feature is eccentric, but I’m sure that’s what the creators were going for. I was more of a fan of the guys on the court than off. Outside of the game, they come off as drunk, blazed, and spacey slackers who just want to party. Which is fine! All that can be fun, but it’s too one-dimensional for me to fully enjoy. I am so glad that they really shine on the court. I like their personalities while they’re playing. Whether they were barely playing to pass the time in the 1st half, or for serious during the 2nd, I liked watching them play. An interlace with contrasting characters, including the other team, can really highlight strong traits. Additionally, I like that Phylo has other inspiration. Sure he also likes to party, and wanks off to his lady’s picture during halftime (with mustard, by the way), but he wants to win first prize for her, which is a car that belonged to her granddad. That’s pretty sweet, and shows that his motivation is (slightly) more than personal gain. That gives dimension, and that’s what I like to see. On top of that, I enjoyed the art style. It’s not as hard and detailed as some of the others in this comic, but it doesn’t need to be! It has a comedic flare that adds to all the ridiculousness going on.
Vigilante Girl Gang
Story and art: Benjamin Marra
This 2 page issue is also short and sweet. A dirty cop is harassing a prostitute, telling her to give him her money, or he’ll arrest her. As he gets mad and demands sex from her (with his gun in her face), the Vigilante Girl Gang shows up. They are 3 women: Bombshell, Blade Lady, and Guns. The cop tries to flee in his car, and Bombshells tosses dynamite that hits his car. He comes out drenched in flames and attempts to fire his weapon. The leader, Guns, is quicker, and shoots him a couple of times. Blade Lady comes and cuts his throat, and the other 2 high five in victory.
I have to give it to the writer for a nice short story. In just 2 pages, he manages to give us the idea of what these women are all about and the feel of the atmosphere. The colors of this issue are hard and powerful, along with the dramatic shading used for the characters. Along with the crooked policeman (you know if there’s one, there’s more where that came from) and the “mean streets” the woman refers to, you need a hero or 3 to make sure innocents are as safe as possible. I also enjoyed the writing very much. These ladies come off as very respectful women that just want a fair sense of justice. Guns calls the police “petulant” and says, “You dishonor yourself!” The guy proceeds to announce, “I exit!”, as he jumped in his car. It came off a little cheesy, but it added a small comedic touch that I didn’t mind. These ladies are hardcore, and so is this comic!
The Walking Light: A Witch Gauntlet Tale
Story and art: Zé Burnay
We have a boy named Melvin who has a pretty interesting looking right arm that looks like it’s made of spikey armor or stone. On his shoulder is a bug looking creature named Oberum, and they are hunting for ghosts in the woods. Five ghosts come up and surround them, saying they want to kill him and drink his blood. Melvin and Oberum take it as a challenge and try to face them head on. They don’t quite get the chance after the ghosts get spooked by a glow they call “The Walking Light.” This light is a large walking skeleton illuminated from the inside out. Oberum explains that this guy is the ghost of a murderer or cannibal now cursed by the Gods to hunt for lost souls and lead them to the Land of the Dead (by eating them).
I am a sucker for origin stories and tales of unique punishment brought on by powerful entities. The Walking Light is a dead bad guy who has to spread light through the dark for all eternity because of his extension of darkness when he was living. I’m not big on plain ‘ole didactic style, but put a twist on it and it becomes more interesting. This issue was smartly done, and Melvin’s arm reminded me of Jugo’s left arm from Naruto Shippuden when his curse mark took over. Those are some really solid arms! So yes, something is going on with this kid and this creature that we don’t know just by this one issue, but we got a sense of their personalities and what they, or at least the Melvin, like to do. He was looking for some fun, and he finds an old ghost tale up close and personal. Melvin’s arm and Oberum’s head both have a heptagram. I would love to know the story behind that, and how these two even came to know each other.
So that’s all 5 comics from this issue of American Nature Presents! Some of the stories hinted that there would be more. They already caught my attention, so I’m ready for another issue! If you’re looking for some short reads that do make sense, almost make sense, or do whatever the hell they want, this comic will entertain you. I’m looking forward for some continuations from Bogus Books!
Kristopher (yes, that is her real name) writes indie comic reviews for endoftheuniversecomics.com. Now residing in Minneapolis, she went to UNC-Charlotte majoring in Psychology and Becoming an Adult. She enjoys singing, drawing, learning guitar with her tiny hands, cheesy puns, and playing video games.