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Evil Geek Book Report - Mandala 19 juin 2014
Par Chris Martinez - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Hey there, Evil Geeks. Remember a few years back when everyone was all on edge because according to some ancient Mayan prophecy, the world was allegedly supposed to end in 2012? Seeing as how we’re all still here, I’m guessing that whole thing never really panned out like it was supposed to. What if that failure of prophecy wasn’t the fault of some sub-par, half-assed Mayan soothsayer, but because humanity has been secretly enslaved by a group of time-hopping, interdimensional demonic entities? That’s the supposition taken by the subject of today’s Evil Geek Book Report, Mandala, from Dark Horse Comics, written by Stuart Moore (X-Men Origins, Spider-Man) featuring art by Bruce Zick (Thor).

Mandala is the story of how human evolution has been stopped dead in it’s tracks by an invading entity know as Natasmia and the mysterious world enveloping energy field known as the GRID. The Mayans predicted that humanity would take a great leap forward in terms of development and evolution in 2012, but thanks to Natasmia, that leap forward never came to be. Natasmia has her sights set on ruling all of humanity for the rest of existence and as anyone who’s ever dabbled in mind control knows; it’s easier to control a simpleton than it is to control a highly evolved being. Had we been able to evolve, human-kind would be able to access different forms of being, making us much more powerful than we could ever imagine. Natasmia’s GRID has stymied our development, allowing her and her forces to have free reign over the planet. That’s where Michael Patrick Murphy comes in. Michael and some comrades has set up a resistance to Natasmia’s rule and have been sticking it to the man (or the demonic woman in this case) with mostly small scale attacks and stunts like spiking an entire city’s water supply with LSD. Little doesn Michael know however, that he has the potential to be so much more than just a guerrilla fighter, battling for minor victories in the grand scale of things. Michael’s more evolved form, known as the Morningstar, is a superpowered demon king, destined to lead a group of other superpowered individuals known as the Thirteen into battle against Natasmia. With the help of his love Mary Lozen and her shamanic grandfather, the Morningstar is awakened within Michael and slowly he learns to use his powers in an attempt to save different timelines from the invading evil. Natasmia is certainly no fan of the Morningstar, as unbeknownst to Michael, the two have battled previously in different timelines with one fracas resulting in the Morningstar ripping of Natasmia’s wings. I get pissed enough as it is if someone nicks a chicken wing off my plate at a pub; I don’t know about you but I’d be super frosted if someone actually ripped actual wings off of my body.

The world established by Moore is packed with a blend of iconography and religious symbols from various cultures across the globe. Taking aspects of Native American beliefs, zodiac symbols, and even a dash of good old fashioned God vs. the Devil, the universe is fleshed out with gods and monsters from all of humanity. Michael and his co-horts, each representing different archetypes do battle with terrifying incarnations of the star signs from the Libra to the Gemini Twins and a menagerie of other chilling beasts which are brought to life through Zick’s artwork.

The story of Mandala doesn’t just stop once the book ends either. The creators have set up an interactive game on facebook where you can join one of the various clans from the book and invite others to join in the story. The more people you invite the more points you earn which unlock more issues of the comic for you to read and if enough people sign up for the game, the creators promise to unveil their secret “endgame” for all to see. The story itself incorporates many of the aspects of our modern real world that are viewed as controversial or as secret plots to control us. From genetic modifications to the military’s secrect HAARP installation and biochips, Mandala presents a story that breaks the fourth wall and blurs the line between fiction and reality. You can check out the game and read some issues for free at the Mandala page on Facebook or for more information you can check out Mandala is out this month from Dark Horse, so make sure to check it out!
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A GREAT graphic novel - ambitious, mindbending, and thoroughly entertaining! 5 juin 2014
Par Ed Garrett at TMStash - Publié sur
Format: Broché
We interviewed Stuart Moore and Bruce Zick (check out our interview at, who still claim that a shadowy cabal called “The Thirteen” are the REAL creators of this great graphic novel. Regardless of who actually did create this book, it’s a unique title that deserves an additional look. What IS the Mandala? What role do the Thirteen play in trying to save the world? MANDALA is ambitious, a little audacious, definitely mind-bending…and a thoroughly engrossing and entertaining book. 10/10
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Ambitious cross-genre epic 16 juin 2014
Par YC - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
[This review was originally written for Word Of The Nerd Online]

Don’t bother going into Mandala with any preconceived notions - this book will defeat them entirely. It’s a hefty tome of over 250 pages that refuses to be pigeon-holed into any one genre. Time travel, mysticism, mythology, government conspiracy: Mandala tackles it all, as we follow Michael Morningstar and his friends – collectively known as The Thirteen – in their quest to free the human race from the control of demonic forces.

It’s a credit to the creative team’s multi-tasking skills that the scope of their chronicle does not feels overwhelming. They are careful in how they unravel the breadth and mystery of their tale, ensuring that the reader is always rooted in the perspective of his girlfriend Mary Lozen, as we follow the journey of Michael Morningstar’s awakening. It helps that there’s an increasing sense of urgency and tension in the narrative, as it becomes increasingly clear that The Thirteen is running out of options and possibilities, and the overall effect only serves to keep the reader engaged and invested in what happens next.

This is story with a global scale, a fact reflected in the diversity of its cast. There are more women than men, and each and every one manifests in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours. There’s some fun stereotype subversion, too — such as with Mary’s Native American grandfather, for example, who is clearly meant to serve as Michael’s sage, knowing advisor… and who turns out to be far more irreverent and smart-mouthed than one might expect. It adds a nice touch of humour to an otherwise grim story, and overall I found each character developed just enough to make them legitimate players rather than just background window dressing. It’s a testament to Moore’s experience as a story-teller that the cast feels appropriately large to Mandala‘s purview, and not ever confusing or unwieldy.

Moore and Zick have also clearly drawn inspiration from the mythologies of various cultures and religions, and it’s a clever way of portraying the high, universal stakes involved here – this is a fight spanning not just the physical plane, but all the spiritual ones. As a mythology nut, I especially enjoyed how this came through in Bruce Zick’s artwork.

His panels and layouts are intricately detailed, easily keeping up with Stuart Moore’s ambitious script. I’ve seen Zick’s art in Mandala described elsewhere as “psychedelic and menacing”, and that’s a perfect description for the feel he achieves here. One thing that struck me was how Michael Morningstar is consistently coloured in blue/purple shades, even though he’s apparently a white American. But we also see him at various points sprouting multiple arms and wings, so it’s of a kind strangeness that makes sense within the context of Mandala. This is a weird, otherworldly story, and as far as the visuals go, the reader is never allowed forget that.

If I had to make a complaint, it might be that the story’s resolution was not strong enough for my tastes. While the book was crafted to stand as a complete narrative in itself, I found the ending a bit too abrupt. While I understand that the sheer breadth of what Moore and Zick are attempting here means that Mandala could only be the beginning of a long saga, some suggestion of what was next for the protagonists might have made for a more rounded reading experience.

Still, they’ve certainly done enough to make me very curious to find out how the story continues. And if you’re up for a herculean narrative of good versus evil that crosses multiple timelines, dimensions, and mythological pantheons — with a hefty dose of sci-fi paranoia, mysticism and good ol’ fashioned romance — then you might just get as suckered into this epic tale this as I was.

Read if:
- you’re into mythology & conspiracy sci-fi a la Philip K. Dick;
- you like your comics cast with diverse characters & drawing from more than just Western history/culture;
- you just want a long, thought-provoking book story to get into!
All over the place 20 juin 2014
Par Alt - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Natasmia (a/k/a Redshield) and her serpents have conquered every nation on Earth. The serpents maintain control through a worldwide surveillance network called The Grid. It's always a bad idea to build one of those, as subjugated humans learn. It's especially bad when you have biochips implanted in your brain. We know all of this because captured rebel leader Michael Murphy starts babbling about it so that the reader will understand the background to the story. Soon the evil torturer joins the babbling so that the reader can know about cosmic rays from the Photon Belt which would have caused humans to evolve into superhumans if not for that regrettable grid. Unfortunately for the torturer, his torture techniques turn Michael into Michael Morningstar, a being with six arms, wings, and a big .... sword.

At the beginning of the story, Murphy can't control his transformation into Morningstar, his dark Empyrean form. He needs the help of a babe named Mary Lozen Many Colors (Xanadu in her Empyrean form) and her Hopi grandfather, who introduces him to The 13. Who are The 13? We're supposed to care about the answer to that question. I didn't much, although I thought their Wanted posters were kinda cool. Conveniently for the reader, the rest of the backstory is given to Morningstar in a vision as he tries to awaken his higher consciousness.

Some of the writing is sappy and some is childish. Some isn't bad, but there's too much "Taste my steel!" and similar drek interfering with the better prose.

The art is eye-catching in a bizarre sort of way but the story is all over the place. We've got time travel and demons and mysterious powers and Einstein and ray guns and the Grid and the Photon Belt and the "mystical Indian" stereotype and a mad scientist turned killer who cures Stephen Hawking and can't decide whether he's on the side of the good guys or the bad guys. By the end of the volume the story isn't close to a resolution. Some of this is interesting but I'm not sure I have the stamina to hang in for another volume.
Global Conspiracy vs. Mystic Army 11 juin 2014
Par Jose42 - Publié sur
Format: Broché
From a review originally posted at

Mandala is an odd book. I haven’t read a comic quite like it before. It feels like a blend of assorted mysticism and the Illuminatus! Trilogy. The chief conflict in the comic is between the techno-magic corporation that is clearly evil and thirteen mostly just magic revolutionaries. There is more than a healthy dose of paranoia in this comic, with a vast conspiracy spanning dimensions and incorporating oppressive magics and oppressive technology.

The writing in this comic has a lot to do. Stuart Moore’s script covers two dimensions, a non-dimension that ties them together, as well as the nexus of all dimensions. It also introduces more than a dozen good guys and even more bad guys. The fact that it manages this at all is impressive; the fact that it works is kind of crazy. Unfortunately, there are some strong stereotypes on display here. I don’t think it’s anything malicious, but the wise leader of the group is an old Native American man who fights with tomahawks. There is also a Russian man called Bear who is big, hairy, and strong. Mostly, this seems like a convenient shortcut. You know the old Indian is going to be wise. You know the big Russian is going to be strong. This isn’t a problem really, but it is a little off-putting.

Bruce Zick’s art is tremendously interesting. It feels like Jack Kirby with a little bit of Frank Miller thrown in for good measure. I honestly don’t think any other style would have worked with this comic book. The weirdness of the story is exaggerated by the art in a way that Kirby would have appreciated. (I don’t need to mention that I have never met Jack Kirby.) Like Kirby’s best, the backgrounds here are ludicrously detailed, which makes all the world building much more effective. Whether it is a hanging tree on the side of a cliff or a horde of demons waging war outside the White House, there is a richness and detail that sells the whole thing.

This isn’t a comic that I would recommend for everyone, but if you are looking for a weird, mystical grudge match with the beleaguered forces of Good and Freedom facing off with the forces of Oppression and Tyranny, this one might just fit the bill. There are some problems to be sure, but this is a comic with a real point of view, and that is definitely worth something.

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