Pullbox Reviews: Leaders of the Free World – A Chinese folk hero, a cyborg corgi (Cyborgi), and an alien invasion…

Coming soon to ComiXology. Check the Kickstarter page for more art and info on the book…

They came out the sky, seven beings with incredible powers referring to themselves as “The Godsend”. They came to our planet to help evolve us into something greater, something more.  Using their advanced technology, the Godsend bestowed upon us great powers and abilities. But with that same power came greed, corruption and destruction.  Using our new abilities, the human race went to war over who should rule the Earth and billions were killed. The Godsend intervened but were too late, the damage had been done.  Teaming up with the United Nations, the Godsend are now enforcers of the Archetype Papers, a law that prohibits super powered beings(named Archetypes) from operating outside of their respective countries. And then the world went back to normal, but at what cost? And what happens when the whole world is in danger and it takes a team from all over the world to save it?  Find out what happens when seven beings from around the world have to team-up to save us all in…

October 17, 1974 was kind of a big deal on our solitary little ball of mud. Five powerful beings calling themselves the Godsend arrived to help usher us into a new era. Each of the Godsend took citizenship in a different country so as to spread their knowledge and power across the globe, and as time went by humanity developed powers and abilities of our own.

As these powers spread, the people who came to be known as the Archetypes began to do what people have always done… They argued and squabbled over who should be in charge and whose ideology was right. This led to the World War, a devastating conflict that wiped out a full third of the world’s population before the Godsend intervened. In a rare act of solidarity the nations of the world came together to draft the Archetype Papers, outlawing the use of Archetypes’ powers outside of the borders of their respective countries.

But what happens when an event so catastrophic, so widespread and of a significant threat to the world as a whole occurs? As an armada of alien ships closes in for an invasion, lines on a map become insignificant. The Archetypes will need to act as one, no matter where in the world they might be needed.

Anyone whose read one or two of these reviews should have picked up on what I would consider well-written dialogue. It’s one of the toughest aspects of writing, in any medium you can name, and when it’s done right it can elevate a book. Many new writers have trouble presenting conversations between characters in a way that reads as natural, failing to use contractions, or over-dramatizing speech patterns. None of these are necessarily a failure as a writer, and will generally come with experience, but it can bog down a reader. Corey Pruitt has managed to avoid these pitfalls like a champ. For as diverse a cast of characters as he’s brought together in the pages of this book, everyone has a voice that reads as naturally as any conversation I’ve ever had, and it makes for a more enjoyable comic.

And speaking of that cast… Not happy to just stick to easily catalogued stereotypes, Pruitt has come up with an interesting group of people with unique origins and backgrounds. Cong Li, aka “Surreal Monkey King”, is the current embodiment of Sun Wukong from Chinese legends… a status he’s not particularly comfortable with. Illyas Godfrey is the son of the Earth Mother Gaia (yes, that Earth Mother Gaia) and a professional wrestler- a career that’s a little different in a world populated with super powered Archetypes- who really isn’t happy with his stage name “Brotha Nature”. The earth-born Godsend named Lunar has all of the power of her alien heritage, but combined with a southern drawl and a bit of a drinking problem she’s immediately more interesting than the super-heroic alien living on Earth trope she could have fallen into.

As to the artwork, I have to wonder where Elijah Isaiah Johnson has been hiding… his work is just outstanding. In many freshman artists, even in some sophomore or junior ones, there isn’t always a great sense of action or body mechanics in the figures. Johnson’s work has a great flow to it, with everyone moving across the page smoothly and with purpose. Even characters who aren’t really doing all that much are given some sense of activity, instead of just statically taking up space in a panel. Think about it… as you’re sitting there reading this review, are you really just an immobile lump of skin and bone? Or are you reaching for a cup of coffee, scratching an itch, or glancing outside to see what the neighborhood kids are up to? That’s the sense I got from Johnson’s work, that his characters are breathing, active people who are doing more than just waiting around for something to happen to them.

Filling out the visual dynamic of Leaders of the Free World, Ross Hughes brings everything to life with his use of colors. Nothing looks like it’s just slapped down onto the page, flat and immobile. He’s able to continue and build on the work of Johnson by giving everything a sense of depth through color. The last part of a comicbook’s visual equation comes compliments of the letterer, and in this case Toben Racicot uses his space on the page well. Whether is a sound effect or word balloon, he’s able to avoid blocking out any of the action, which is the biggest hallmark of good lettering… a comicbook creator’s equivalent to “do no harm.”

There were a couple very minor glitches along the way, maybe an instance where some emphasis could have been placed on a particular special effect, or a line break divided a word incorrectly. Nothing at all that pulled me out of the story for more than the instant it took me to recognize it before moving on. One more run through in the editing phase, and I probably could’ve skipped this paragraph and moved right into my review summary…

Just gonna say it. Leaders of the Free World is a damn good comicbook. I’m not even gonna throw in a qualifier like, “for a first time creative team” or “for an independent title.” The quality here is easily on a par with- and flat out better than some of- what gets put out by the Big Two on a monthly basis. Wholly self-published through Kickstarter, and (I’ve been told) coming soon to ComiXology, this is a title deserving of attention from fans of the superhero genre.

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