Pullbox Reviews: Folklore – Struggling to survive in a world where superheroes have become supermonsters…

At the height of its power the Federation represented unity and hope for the future. It was meant to be the start of a utopia. No one could imagine the cancer eating away at the heart of its leadership.

When the world’s most powerful empire collapsed into civil war, it did not take long for humanity to become engulfed in conflict on a global scale. In a desperate attempt to stop the fighting a weapon was deployed. It was designed to strip the power from every living superhuman, creating an equilibrium between humanity and those who claimed to be gods. For many, it worked. They become ordinary humans with only the memory of their wondrous gifts. Others died, torn apart by the powers they once were able to command. The rest were twisted into something new. Abominable reflections of the gifts that defined them… 

Folklore is a superhuman horror story, focused on a small band of survivors trying to navigate a war-torn world in the aftermath of the Federation’s collapse. Written by Adam Ma and illustrated by Colin Tan Wei, Folklore updates one page a week every Wednesday.

In all of the wide world of comic books, there are independent publishers, creators, & titles. Then there are INDEPENDENT comics, the labors of love put out into the world because someone has the talent & the will to do it. They’re the webcomics, available to read for free for anyone willing to wait for weekly installments. You can also find them on sites like Patreon where crowd funding is at its purest form as creators work tirelessly (or just tired since they’re usually holding down day jobs in the real world) to put out content with backers fronting monthly subscriber fees for cool & exclusive benefits.

Think about it… people actually making a thing, just because they really love that thing. Any money made with most of these webcomics comes in after the fact, relying on word of mouth (and internet) to get around, to build some interest, to get to the point that folks will pay to get their hands on what you’re doing. And so it is that I found myself with a pdf copy of volumes 1 & 2 of Folklore, the beautiful brainchild of Adam Ma and Colin Tan, in the hopes that thePullbox could help spread some of that word with our mouths… or, y’know… the internet.

So what is Folklore? In the words of Adam Ma:

“Folklore is a post-apocalyptic superhuman horror story that follows the survivors of a biological weapon that has twisted the world’s greatest heroes into abominable shadows of their former selves. Uncertain of the future and guided by the man who was once the world’s most renown hero, their party must make their way across an America where mankind is fractured and hunted by the saviors who once swore to defend them.”

After that build up, I had to check this one out and I’m very happy to report that Folklore is a great read. The idea of a zombie apocalypse with superheroes isn’t wholly new. I’ve read a few of the Ex-Heroes novels by Peter Clines, and would recommend them to anyone. But Folklore isn’t a zombie book. This story follows the survivors of a man-made catastrophe, brought about in response to an all-out war being fought by the supers of the world. What was supposed to wipe away all powers, leveling the playing field for all, worked only some of the time. In most cases the super powered beings mutated, their altered physiologies and ultra-human abilities creating… something different, something monstrous. Now what’s left of humanity is struggling to stay alive, to find an answer to their horrific new world.

Adam Ma is a guy who can write. Seriously, I get a lot of comics sent my way every month, both from smaller publishers & from totally independent creators. Many of these comics are well-written. Some are not. Adam Ma is at the far end of the former. His characters are varied in personalities, covering the full range of the spectrum from bitter survivalist to upbeat optimist. Further, Ma’s dialogue fills in the gaps between bouts of action, showing how these very different people interact and highlights why such a mismatched group would stick together to begin with. As in all really good stories, the best parts are the quiet moments in between action sequences, where characters do what they do and convince the reader to care about what happens when the shit hits the fan.

But as good as the writing is, and Adam if you’re reading this I’m going to apologize now, it was the artwork that pushed me over the edge. I don’t know who this Colin Tan person is, or what he does for a living, but at some point in time someone is going to have to hire him and pay him a lot of money to do THIS. I don’t even know what to call this style, because it looks like it sits somewhere in between hand painted minimalist & digitally rendered. There are sequences where the closer you look, the details seem to fall away the way that a talented artist working on canvass can create a grassy field from a series of seemingly random brush strokes. And then the details are added in, facial features defined and the world given depth. Reading the first two volumes, every page brought me one of those “holy crap” moments where I’m looking at it and get blown away by how gorgeous the whole thing is. Then the action starts & Tan really pours it on. There’s a great sense of kinetic energy in Folklore, the idea that normal people will have the courage and tenacity to go up against the likes of Titan… a superhuman mutated beyond recognition & living on rage.

It’s always the hope that once in a while, something written here actually prompts someone out there to take a look at what I’m talking about, and maybe like it enough to invest a little bit in it. Whether it’s to buy an issue, subscribe to a series, or in cases like this subscribe to a creator’s Patreon. If five people check out Folklore and front some cash for this very worthwhile series, that’s the best possible outcome a we could hope for.

Well, I went ahead and put an order in for volumes 1 & 2 in print, so the pressure’s off. One down, four to go, people.

Final Score: 12/13

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