By Dustin Cabeal
We as comic book readers have a general understand and acceptance that not every first issue is going to be a polished diamond. Some are going to be rough around the edges and actually that’s not a bad thing. I have read too many great first issues only to be disappointed by everything that followed. I’ll take a rough diamond any day. That said, Black Lotus Empire isn’t perfect, but it’s very enjoyable.
Rather than start with the story, I want to start with the art because that’s what won me over on this book. Artist Carlos Gomez has a clean and modern style. I can see some people saying it’s familiar to the 90s, but I think Neeraj Menon’s coloring squashes that instantly. Jeff Miller’s story is set in the future of China, specifically Beijing, and it rather than being drab and dystopian, it’s bright and futuristic looking. It reminded me of Mirror’s Edge in that the city was clean and sterile, but screams “I am the future!” Same thing here, I didn’t question that this was the future; in fact, I loved the way the future looked.
The designs are a mix between M. Bison and Overwatch and any other video game with futuristic armor. It’s the perfect fit for the story, and while it reminded me of those things, it was still its own entity. It wasn’t copy and paste, but rather here’s some of my influences recognize them or don’t. Aside from great designs, the action was easy to follow and flowed nicely from panel to panel. It would have been nice to give each sequence just a few more panels, but it works for the space it’s given.
As for the story, it’s familiar. It’s a story that’s been told, and really it’s the setting and the outcome that will dictate if it’s any different. We meet a young girl that’s going out on one of her first missions to kill a man that’s been fighting against the empire and causing a lot of problems. Through flashbacks we see her training and that she didn’t always have the heart of a killer until she was informed that her imprisoned father was killed. Now, she doesn’t want to end up like dear old dad. There’s a twist, and things don’t go according to the plan for anyone.
The twist was transparent. The outcome is a bit transparent as well. That’s just the nature of the beast when you take in a lot of stories via all sources of media possible. I’m not upset by it and in fact really want to see where the story goes from here. That’s when I’ll see the caliber of the story. The groundwork has been laid, and the details are now out of the way. A successful first issue by any standards. The dialogue had moments of stiffness and other parts that flowed quite well. The characters are still finding their voice, and so is Miller. Again, nothing to be mad at and since this is a very professional looking book, I would say that it did a hell of a job.
I took a few months off from reading indie comics because everything I was reading wasn’t very good. To the point that I couldn’t read one more bad comic and pretend I wanted to review it. I finally got back on the horse, and this issue and another really surprised me. They reminded me why I love to find indie comics. Hopefully, we’ll get more submissions like Black Lotus Empire in the future because this book put a smile on my face and made me look forward to future issues.
Black Lotus Empire #1
Writer: Jeff Miller
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Neeraj Menon
Publisher: Rising Sun Comics