Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Graphic Novel Reviews: Submerged and The Black Mage

Title: Submerged
Author: Vita Ayala
Illustrator: Lisa Sterle
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Vault Comics
Pages: 144
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On the night of the biggest storm in New York City history, Elysia Puente gets a call from her estranged little brother Angel, terrified, begging for help. When the call cuts out suddenly, despite the bad feelings between them, Ellie rushes into the night. Finding his broken phone in front of a barricaded subway station, Ellie follows echoes of her brother into the sinister darkness of the underground, desperate to find him before it’s too late.

I stumbled across Submerged while searching for graphic novels by creators of color and was immediately pulled in by the creepy cover. I tend to ignore reviews when it comes to comics because I like mine a bit dark and weird, so I wasn't too put off by the mixed reception and was eager to read this! 

In Submerged, Ellie goes out to find her brother after getting a panicked call from him. She ends up in the subways on the night of a huge storm and finds herself on a bizarre journey where she has to face her past. It was weird. I know I said I like weird books and I truly, truly do, but this was just way out there. I had a very hard time following the story from early on.

As Ellie goes through the subway, she sees flashbacks from her childhood and teenage years. Her father was abusive, her mother was an enabler and didn't defend her children, and her brother was a selfish jerk. I really wasn't quite sure what the point was supposed to be. The art was really nice and I did like that it seemed to have ties to Greek mythology, but this just wasn't for me. 

Title: The Black Mage
Author: Daniel Barnes
Illustrator: D.J. Kirkland
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Oni Press
Pages: 153
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When St. Ivory Academy, a historically white wizarding school, opens its doors to its first-ever black student, everyone believes that the wizarding community is finally taking its first crucial steps toward inclusivity. Or is it? When Tom Token, the beneficiary of the school's "Magical Minority Initiative," begins uncovering weird clues and receiving creepy texts on his phone, he and his friend, Lindsay, stumble into a conspiracy that dates all the way back to the American Civil War, and could cost Tom his very soul.

The Black Mage has been on my TBR for awhile, but I was hesitant since I didn't think I would like the art style. I finally decided to give it a try this past weekend and I'm so glad I did! 

Going into this book, I was basically expecting Black Harry Potter based on the Amazon page, but that was definitely not what this was. This story includes the ghosts of historical figures including John Henry, Harriet Tubman, and Fredrick Douglass. The main character, Tom Token, is the only Black student at the wizarding school and his familiar's name is a crow named Jim. The headmaster wears a Klan uniform and I was not prepared. 

I really don't want to say too much more about the plot, but I loved this story! The humor is amazing, the art is gorgeous, and the pacing kept me hooked. I kept seeing people say this was very similar to Harry Potter in reviews, but it really isn't at all, other than the setting being a school for wizards. I'll definitely be buying a copy for my shelf!