Pullbox Reviews: KOGs #3- Supernatural Military Action with layers… like an onion

The death of Badger has opened up old wounds for the K.O.G.S, leaving them vulnerable for a systematic attack on all levels-physical, mental, emotional and psychic-by an unknown powerful and sadistic assailant.

K.O.G.S (Keeper of the Gates), is a specialized military group chosen from all branches of the armed services to protect the world from supernatural threats from vampires to Elder gods.

KOGs follows the lives of the Keeper of the Gates, a highly elite group of special forces operators tasked with guarding against all threats… foreign and domestic, supernatural and extra-dimensional. Currently in between missions, the team has scattered, each member dealing with the recent loss of a friend & teammate in their own way.

And that right there was the first way in which this comic impressed the hell out of me. It would be easy to just put together a comic that was all about the action. Fact is, if this were one of those I’d still read it, but the majority of this issue covers more than just the adventures of the KOGs team.

Another point that impressed me was the level of writing in this small, privately published book. Lee Gooden has covered a lot of ground in his career as a writer, having started down that path at a pretty young age and branching out into multiple areas. He’s also not content to sit comfortably in any single genre, with comic credits running from horror (Franklinstein) & action (Romy) to work on a Kaiju comic with Grayhaven Presents. KOGs flexes a different set of muscles for Gooden as the story goes deep into the subject of PTSD among combat veterans. The dialogue, while occasionally on the heavy-handed side in the beginning, really hits its stride about a quarter of the way in. From there on, it came across to me as very authentic in its portrayal of how different people may respond to the unique and intense stresses of military service.

Visually, KOGs may lack a little polish, but that took nothing away from my first (or second) read-through. Co-creator Rod Jacobsen’s layouts work to move a reader along. The panels go beyond the simple & more traditional grid with open boxes and overlapping artwork that highlight the efforts of co-creator Dan DeMille. I think it’s DeMille’s influence that makes KOGs shine. An Army veteran for whom the subject of PTSD is an important one, DeMille seems to be where the book’s authentic tone comes from. Almost as important, his flare in rendering the book’s action sequences, from barroom brawls to demonic attacks, pushes this team’s achievement over the top in my esteem.

Since I started writing for thePullbox, with our focus on small press titles just like this one, I’ve come to understand that not all indie comics are created equal. While all are impressive simply for the act of their creation, others hit a few more benchmarks in the raw talent department. At first glance, KOGs might look like a run of the mill independently published comic, but in every aspect it goes above and beyond the norm.

Final Score: 8

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