Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
All this month I’ll be reviewing different comic books with LGBT themes (LGBT standing for “Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender”), based on submissions from the actual creators of the comic books themselves. Here is an archive of the comics featured so far!
The month continues with the trade paperback collection of the first (three-issue) story arc of Frater Mine, titled “Family Reunion,” by Sean McGrath, Juan Romera, Andres Barrientos, Ed Brisson and cover artists Scott McGrath and Dan MacHold.
First off, wow, what a sweet cover by McGrath’s brother, Scott. Quite awesome.
Frater Mine is about three friends who all know magic. They were as close as close could be for years until various things broke them apart. Now, sixteen years later, with two thirds of the trio in the midst of living “normal” lives, the other third of the group drags them back into the world of magic – whether they want to or not.
The three friends are named Matt, Colleen and Jake. Matt is gay, but in the first volume at least, that is just part of his personality – it doesn’t actually have an active bearing on the story itself, which is mostly about re-igniting the interest in magic for Matt and Colleen, who, as I noted before, gave up the magic life years ago.
This trade collects the first three issues of the Frater Mine ongoing series, and these three issues set-up the main series, which is about Matt re-embracing his magical abilities and, in effect, becoming a superhero for the 21st Century.
The artwork is done by Juan Romera for issues #1 and 3 and Andres Barrientos for #2. Barrientos’ style is a LOT different than Romera (and I’m pretty sure Barrientos even changes Colleen’s hair color, unless that was just a matter of shade in the Romera issues and she’s a blonde the whole series).
Romera improves by leaps and bounds from the first issue to the third.
Ed Brisson is the letterer on the series.
Here are some sample pages from the first issue…
By the third issue, Romera’s art seems much more polished. It has a Mike Mignola-esque feel to it. And, of course, when your story involves going to “the void” on a mission from Heaven itself to confront a demon, then having a Hellboy vibe to your artwork is a real plus.
While in future issues, I’m sure McGrath will focus in on the very idea of what it is means to be a “modern” superhero, this story deals more with the feelings involved when close friends that have grown apart are thrown back together. It’s amazing how quickly old patterns can be re-learned, but at the same time, old grudges don’t need to be re-learned, as they have never been forgotten. Jake is a loose cannon, the kind of loose cannon where you don’t want to be next to when he goes off. Here, he double and triple crosses all sorts of supernatural entities (and that’d even believing that the role of Heaven, which we know only from him, is for real).
This book has exemplary characterization work by McGrath, who has created complex and believable characters here that have relationships that seem like they are real people (granted, they are based on real friends of McGrath, but that doesn’t say much – it’s one thing to NOTE that someone is based on a real person, it’s a whole other thing to actually make them FEEL like a real person – McGrath pulls that off with ease).
This is a compelling series that has opened up well with this introductory storyline. And seeing as how Romera will likely only get better as time goes by, the future is bright for this series (and it’s not like the present is chump change, either!).
Click here to buy a copy of the trade.
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