Rating if the Book Were a Movie: PG-13

Creator: Milton Davis
Writer: Robert Jeffrey II
Line Artist: Matteo Illuminati
Colors: Loris Ravina
Letters: Loris Ravina
Cover: Matteo Illuminati and Jesse Heagy
Publisher: MV Media and 133Art

It seems like I’ve been reading and writing about the same four or five titles over and over again. It was time to change it up a bit. I don’t have to go on a quest for new comic books to read. I have a collection that comes close to requiring its own storage unit. Finding something to read that’s off the beaten path from my regular stuff…. There’s a challenge. Fortunately, a Kickstarter I backed has come to the rescue with a book that was part of a campaign’s stretch goal. 

“Changa and the Jade Obelisk” #1 takes place in the 15th century on the east coast of Africa. It would appear that a  young man named Zakee Ibn Basheer has stolen something from the natives. The chase has young Zakee fleeing like he’s Indiana Jones trying to get to a sea plane with a very angry tribe in hot pursuit behind him. A flying leap into the Indian Ocean from a cliff puts him out of harm’s way for a moment while we get to know more of the characters.

We get to know the captain of a ship named (I believe) Mbogo. He seems to be a combination of a great warrior and savvy businessman. His shipmate, Tuareg, is a mute that seems to be able to sense when trouble is near. The ship also has a magician/sorceress of sorts in Panya. 

The crew saves Zakee from some of his pursuers. When they get back to the ship things start to get really interesting. We learn that the natives have been enslaved by a powerful sorceress that will do anything to possess the Obelisk in Zakee’s possession. What will  happen if Panya uses it to defend the ship and crew from attackers?

Artwork: .75 Stars

As soon as I saw the cover it reminded me of the mini comic “He-Man and the Obelisk” that I got with a figure years ago. There are a couple huge differences though. For starters, the quality of artwork on “Changa and the Jade Obelisk” are much better. It’s also much longer. This wasn’t thrown together as a gimmick to get a kid to buy a toy. This book was carefully thought out, and it shows. There are a couple panels that have some violence in them. Those few panels are the difference between a  PG and PG-13 rating in my book. 

Story: .75 Stars

The first issue in an indie series has a lot of work to do. It doesn’t have the luxury of being a Spider-Man or Batman where the whole world already knows the origin story. A new indie comic has to be able to give you a setting, a plot, and hopefully find a way to create a connection between the reader and at least one character in a title full of new faces. And the creative team has about 25 pages to make it happen in. 

Because of this I try to be more fair minded about the first book in a run. Character development can take some time. I’m more interested in seeing if the story has a strong enough plot to keep my curiosity piqued. “Changa and the Jade Obelisk” does. To me it’s “The Voyages of Sinbad” meets “Pirates of the Caribbean” … except I haven’t seen a cyclops or kraken yet.

Dialogue: .5 Stars

“Changa and the Jade Obelisk” has a lot of dialogue in it. Aside from learning a little bit about how Panya doesn’t necessarily trust Tuareg because he doesn’t speak, we don’t get much information or character development. I wouldn’t call it a swing and miss because the dialogue still moves the story along without making it feel awkward. To me the pitch was fouled off. There was an opportunity to give the reader more and it came up a little short.

Editing: .75 Stars

I really like the prologue we received a few pages in. I truly wish more stories would give the reader something like that. A quick couple paragraph blurb can do wonders to bring the reader up to speed. Most of the lettering was spot on. I did see one typo that made me hit the brakes because it was early enough in the story that I was trying to figure out if this was referring to a character. 

Mechanics: .75 Stars

“Changa and the Jade Obelisk” definitely pulls the reader in quickly. From the word go we’re 

trying to figure out why this man is running through the jungle. I’d like to see more character development in the upcoming issues. I think a good foundation has been laid down. And I’m curious to see where the story takes us from here.