New Comic Review Presents: Celflux: Reluctant Heroes
Written By Justin D.
Celflux: Reluctant Heroes, is a creator owned comic published by GEMGFX, a digital studio housed in Trinidad and Tobago. It’s written by Dixie Anne Archer-McBain with art by studio founder Everard McBain, Jr. The story takes place on a planet called New Genesia (it’s never stated if there was an “Old” Genesia) where a war between six noble families has finally come to an end and a shaky truce is established and maintained by a group called “keepers.” The keepers’ job is to ensure that no threat be allowed to disturb the peace, but overtime the public has grown to distrust the keepers, whose power and influence continues to grow unchecked. A collection of rebel dissidents has made it their mission to overthrow the tyrannical government. But looming over the horizon is a new and unknown threat that will endanger the entire world unless six unlikely heroes can stop it first.
I had the opportunity to read the first two issues, and there is a lot going on. The two issues mostly center around introducing us to our protagonists and our villains. The characters we see emphasized the most are the heroic priestess Okira, a young woman from one of the six families whose magical powers seem to be important to the overall plot. There’s a mysterious plague going around that only Okira’s newly budding powers seem to be able to combat. Then there’s Genocyde, an evil soldier of the keepers who looks to be growing weary of her handlers. There are others but it’s pretty clear that, at least for now, the story wants us to focus on these two.
I want to start out with the positives. The story is interesting. There’s some solid world building at play in the book, and I love how the creators borrow from African folklore with Okira’s heritage. The plague that is being set up as part of the new threat lurking in the shadows is handled subtly, adding an effective feeling of foreboding to the narrative. The art is serviceable. The colors especially are vibrant and lush and the character designs are solid.
Now on to some of the challenges. I thought at times the action scenes can feel pretty stiff. I also wish the artist utilized more establishing shots. We never get a good look at the world or some of the spaces characters occupy. This robs the book of a sense of scale. Where are these characters? Who is this character speaking to? What do the family territories look like? What does the planet look like?
There’s also the pacing. The passage of time is weirdly off kilter in this book. One minute we’re in the present, then we jump forward in time, but it seems like a flashback. The scene where we’re introduced to our six protagonists finds them waking up in a mysterious room with no memory of how they got there. Orika breaks up a scuffle and suggests they all try to figure out how to get home. And then she’s back home. The way the text narration framed it I swore she was remembering something in her past. But no, she’s really back home in the present. When did they get out of the room? How did they get out? How did she get home? What about the others? The story just completely skips this rather important detail, and there is no inclination as to if this will be explored at a later time in the series.
Of the six characters to wake up in the room, only four of them are named. Of those four only two show up again in the story. The other two get into a verbal sparring match, but no other characterization otherwise. The two unnamed characters don’t even get lines of dialogue. Even our villain suddenly has a partner we hadn’t seen before, also with few lines of dialogue to establish who he is outside of some “witty” banter.
To conclude, I’m always strongly tempted to go easy on self-published comic books. One has to admire the painstaking work it takes to pencil, ink, color, write, edit, print, promote, and ultimately push out an original work without the help of a major publisher. Lord knows there are so few artist and writers of color making headway in the industry, that you so badly want to uplift. That said, an artist can’t grow without the aid of constructive criticism, and if I pull my punches as a critic I am not only failing myself and my readers, I am also failing the creators as well.
Despite some creative spots in Celflux, there are many clichés present. That leaves the book with a “been there, don’t that feeling.” That being said, the book is decent, especially a for a book not published by one of the big comic book companies. I’d be willing to give the third issue a look, and if you want, you can find it on Amazon. I say pick up a copy and judge for yourself.
You can find the Celflux team at the Celflux website, and on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. They also have a really great stop motion preview onCelflux on Youtube. If you loved the art in Celflux, you can also check out art consulting company GEMGFX.