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Monday, July 18, 2016

Chess-Masters 1 & 2. Bradley Golden, Gary McClendon (Writers), Marcelo Salza (Art & Letters), Geraldo Filho (Colours). Insane Comics (2015/2016)

An enjoyable and engaging superhero comic. Chess-Masters are a superhero group from the 25th century pulled back to 21st century New York by a super villain, the Pawn Master. The Pawn Master has set up the Chess-Masters  as invaders and they arrive to a hostile reception, the results of which which nicely reinforces thier status with the 21 century authorities. The Chess-Masters  find a very unexpected host in New York and links to a greater enemy than the Pawn Master. A direct confrontation with the Pawn Master has a very unhappy outcome.
Bradley Golden and Gary McClendon have set up a solid superhero story with a great many possible story directions. The elements of a superhero story have all be assembled  very nicely, a superhero group is pulled out of their native context and face a consequential threat. The time travel element is used effectively to support the story structure, the supervillians are suitably smart and effective, they present a genuine problem to the Chess-Masters. The team themselves diverse enough to give some room for dynamic interactions and any story that uses Excalibur credibly has a strong creative force behind it.
What is missing is the depth of confidence that a superhero story requires to gain momentum, there is a little too much telling instead of showing. The Chess-Masters  are African- American and Bradley Golden and Gary McClendon feel no need to explain their deliberate confident choice. That confidence falters when it comes to the superheroics, they are delivered nicely, they are also glossed and explained by the cast in case the reader does not read the situation. Readers of superhero comics are expert at reading situations like this, what they want is to be trusted to do so. The writers have set up the boundaries of the story with flair, now they need the confidence to unleash stories that put the Chess-Masters  in into situations that test them severely and can be solved only by the thoughtful application of their superpowers. This is the the thrill that superhero comics deliver.
Marcelo Salza's art is a pleasure to read, the panel layouts are used with imagination and care to structure the story beats to maximum effect. There is no modesty about the Chess-Masters  or the Pawn Master, they are larger than life and they act it. They dominate the action when it is required and are suitable to the context in the quiet times. The expressions and body language are slightly exaggerated and eloquent, a superhero comic need a slight exaggerated tone all the time to allow for the crescendo of the action to fit. The art makes the context realistic for superhero action which is a considerably harder task to achieve than it might seem. The whole context has to play to the concept. Marcelo Salza has drawn the superheros and villain as recognisably human forms, they look fit and strong rather than grotesque which strongly supports the story. The lettering is quiet and easy to read, it is so naturally part of the panels that it is almost unseen which is no mean feat.
I love the sound effects, like the sound track to an action film, superhero sound effects are vital and the Chess-Masters  has brilliant sound effects. Big, loud and utterly attention grabbing that swing the action right at the reader with the abandon that superhero action needs.
Geraldo Filho's colours are a match for the story and the art, they are bold and sharp, they bring out the details of the cast and the context giving them a solid physical presence and weight.
The creative team behind Chess-Masters clearly understand the mechanics of superhero comics, if they trust themselves and their readers a little more they will make a very enjoyable comic into an superb one.
Chief Wizard Note: These are review copies very kindly sent by Bradley Golden. Chess-Masters are available from Good comics like Chess-Masters are the clinically proven origin for superpowers of increased joy in living, you should try this for yourself.



  2. Thank you, Mr. Carton. Your kind words are much appreciated! God bless!