- Mine to Avenge: The Book of Layla #2
- Evoluzione Publishing
- Created & Written by Robert Jeffrey II
- Illustrated by Matteo Illuminati
- Colors & Letters by Loris Ravina
- Edited by Marcel Dupree
- Live on Kickstarter!
In 1833, a little girl escaped from the house of horrors that was the LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans. Taken in by a priest of the Catholic Church & trained to be a part of an elite group of holy warriors, Leah began a lifetime that would be spent battling the supernatural monsters preying on humanity. When the church wasted time and allowed the demonic LaLauries to escape, Leah struck off on her own path. She decided that she would never again be the instrument of someone else’s justice, serving as someone else’s hand. The Retribution Cabal was established to protect people like her, the victims of the segregated society that had failed them.
Now in 2154, Leah’s last descendent has broken off from the Cabal, labeling them a cult and striking out on her own as a mercenary. What Layla doesn’t know is that the LaLauries are back, organizing the leaders of the supernatural clans… vampire, werewolf, demons and monsters all, gathering to eliminate Leah’s line once and for all.
Mine to Avenge has all kinds of awesome going for it.
The brain child of Robert Jeffrey II, this supernatural sci fi action title moves fast. Freaky fast, with all of the attitude and fire of the very best indie titles out there. There are going to be critics claiming that it’s too controversial, too narrow in its portrayals of some pretty dismal times in history, and that it will alienate readers who are left outside of its targeted audience. I say that readers should be given a little more credit than that, and if there is something in the book that offends, there are plenty of comics out there to turn to as an alternative. Find something you like and move on.
Robert Jeffrey has a talent for dialogue that I love to see, particularly in an independent comic. Not getting hung up on melodramatic jibber jabber, he lets his characters speak in their own voices. They use slang and trade good natured jibes, just like people do. What’s even better is that Jeffrey lets his characters reference past events and personal history without feeling the need to go into detailed explanations. People have a past. Things happen, and while we might mention certain events, we don’t spend all of our time going into detail about them. Jeffrey uses that same mentality in the rest of his story, letting it play out for the reader naturally and giving them the chance to discover the “who, what, & why” as they go. It’s the kind of “show, don’t tell” storytelling that I love and respect, because it gives us the chance to become invested in the characters and their lives, rather than just telling us how we should feel about any given thing or person.
Another asset that Mine to Avenge has on its side is the character design & artwork of Matteo Illuminati. He does an outstanding job of capturing the multiple elements of Jeffrey’s story, from science fiction to the supernatural, into scenes embracing the horrific nature of the LaLauries’ reign of terror… an exceedingly dark corner in the history of New Orleans. Where Illuminati really shines is in his action sequences. Among the vampires and werewolves populating the chaotic world of the book, Layla and the members of the Retribution Cabal are a group of badasses. The fight scenes flow, the figures always moving, only taking the occasional moment to strike a pose… there are artists out there who think every movement in martial arts is an opportunity to make like the Power Rangers, and thankfully Illuminati isn’t one of them. Further, he does a good job in his character designs, particularly when dealing with the “monsters”. No sparkly vamps here. Even where there’s a certain kind of beauty to be found in the demonic villains, there’s no mistaking their true nature. If I had to make a comparison in the work of Matteo Illuminati, I’d say that it reminds me quite a bit of Humberto Ramos. This is an artist who should never be out of work.
The final aspects of the title’s visual appeal comes from Loris Ravina, who fills Illuminiati’s panels with color and depth. Ravina’s work complements the pencils and inks, and promotes the tone of each scene in the book. The shadowy meeting between the monster clans is all candle light and deep shadows. A flashback to the horrors found in House LaLaurie is all shades of red. The cyberpunk cityscape is bright neon greens and blues, with enough “lens flare” effects to make even J. J. Abrams happy. Also handling the lettering in Mine to Avenge, Ravina does the job with efficiency. Dialogue never takes precedence over action on the page, with plenty of room for the outstanding artwork to shine.
At the time I posted this article, Mine to Avenge has 17 days left in its Kickstarter campaign, sitting at a little under half of the funding needed to bring this book to life. Do these very talented creators, and yourselves, a favor… head on over to the campaign page and take a look. See what’s on the table and decide for yourselves whether or not it’s something you’d like to invest in. In my opinion, I’d love to see this book move forward with more regular and widespread distribution. By all rights, it should be able to pull in a substantial audience, catering to multiple tastes.
Final score: 9