Sunday Slugfest - Praxis #1

A comic review article by: Keith Dallas, Jason Sacks, Kelvin Green, John Hays
“Chapter One: Anathema”

Jason Sacks:
Kelvin Green:
John Hays:

Jason Sacks

There are some very, very bad men out there in the world. One such man is Augustus Praxis. A gangster, a trafficker in the flesh trade, a man who exploits and terrorizes his own children. Augustus is as evil as they come. Thankfully, there is someone out there opposing Augustus. That man is Augustus’s own son, Alexander, who he had once groomed as the heir to the evil family throne. Driven by an intense hate for his father, and an intense love for his sister, Alexander is determined to tear his father’s empire down.

That's the storyline for this new comics series by Jerry Bonner and Ash Jackson from new publisher Proleteriat Comics. If this plot sounds like the stuff of a decent revenge movie to you, then you get the tone of this comic exactly right. It’s obvious that writer Bonner is striving to create a world where Augustus is so thoroughly evil that he must be brought down by any means necessary. Readers are shown the tremendous depravity of Augustus in opposition with the fierce determination of Alexander. It’s clear in this story that one thing both the father and son share is an intense commitment to their hatred of each other, a commitment that will almost inevitably end with an devastating confrontation between the two men.

Bonner’s story flows along pretty nicely. He’s obviously a new writer, and there are some scenes that are awkward and others that fall flat. For instance, a scene where two guards joke with each other is confusing in context with the rest of the story. But overall Bonner does a fine job of telling his story. I’m less crazy about Ash Jackson's manga-inspired art, but your mileage may vary on that. Jackson does do a nice job presenting interesting page layouts and obviously is having fun with his art on this issue. However, I think the comic might have looked better with more realistic-looking art on the characters. For instance, Alexander’s sister Athena is supposed to look beautiful, but she just looks weird to me. But I’m aware that I’m out of fashion on the subject of manga-styled art.

In the end, it’s the passion of these two creators that makes this comic fun. It’s clear that this little yarn of evil and revenge is near and dear to the hearts of Bonner and Jackson, and that is what makes it worth reading.

Kelvin Green

Praxis is the name of a family at war with itself; patriarch Augustus Praxis is the cruel and amoral head of a criminal empire, ho keeps his daughter Athena like a prisoner in his home, while his estranged wife has trained their son Alexander in the ways of the samurai so that he might rescue his sister, dismantle his father's empire and ultimately take his father’s life.

The gratuitous violence throughout this comic bothers me somewhat. As a fictional concept, I have no problem with gutting hoodlums, but it’s presented in a rather gleefully bloody way that I’m not too fond of; I’m all for disembowlments and beheadings if there’s some kind of point to them, but here the impression is that they’re just for effect or that they’re somehow to be enjoyed, and I’m not too sure of that. Similarly, the scenes of the crimelord beating his daughter have an exploitational, almost pornographic, feel to them. Obviously the intent is to show how much of a bastard Augustus Praxis is, but this seems gratuitous and unnecessary.

I'm reluctant to attribute such attitudes to the creative team, when there’s a good chance that I simply misread the book or that the creators didn’t quite put their point across clearly enough, but when an attractive female character gets thrashed by her father, then proceeds to burn herself with a cigarette as a direct result of her fury over her powerlessness, it’s difficult not to see this character as an example of sexist, exploitational attitudes. When the slaughter in the opening pages is part of a rescue of helpless female sex slaves (also depicted in the same supermodelesque fashion), it’s even more difficult to ignore.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope there’s a point to all of this, and that the creators aren’t just using women as a storytelling means to an end. Similarly, I hope that the violence and the quasi-incestuous relationship between the protagonist and his sister aren’t just in here solely for purposes of titillation.

The sour taste this book has left me with has rather overpowered the book’s strengths; Jackson’s art has a look akin to that of Humberto Ramos, but with a more distorted look, an extra twist (pun not quite intended) that works well as a whole, but does lead to some slightly dicey images on occasion. Weird distortions and unnecessary violence aside, Jackson’s art makes for an attractive comic. Similarly, somewhere in here there are some interesting story concepts, the very same interesting story concepts that prompted me to take a look in the first place, and it’s a shame it’s buried so deeply in all the nastiness.

I don’t like this comic at all. It seems exploitative and mean-spirited, and really not my sort of thing. I hope that I’ve just misread it and that future issues will prove me wrong, but I’m somehow not confident.

John Hays

Anathema –

· A formal ecclesiastical ban, curse, or excommunication.
· One that is cursed or damned.
· One that is greatly reviled, loathed, or shunned

This is the term Alexander Praxis uses when he ponders what his father must think of him. His father deals in every vice known to man, and Alexander is bent on bringing him down once and for all, saving his sister in the process.

The art on this was good, although the heads were a bit large for the bodies. The cover art was very good, and hinted at the possible future pairing of brother and sister. I especially liked the coloring on the sword and skin tones.

The writing, however, was all over the place. We’re speaking Korean; we’re speaking Japanese; we’re speaking Greek; we’re speaking English. We’re with the boss man in his car, yet the next time we see a car, we’re watching some couple get out after finishing a date. They kiss, she walks in, and then the guy’s ticked off. Huh?

Again, it’s all over the place; very hard to follow. I can only hope the series gets into some type of flow in the next issue, or it will never hook readers.

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