Iron Jaguar Coming Soon to a cross-over event at Champions Comics!
Welcome, comic fans and true page-turners, for returning to the growing blog log of comics_poptarts TartN@tion! For those who are like, "What in the TartN@tion is that?" Well, the podcast fans love comics so much that they'd take time out of their days and lives to read up about comic reviews from exciting creators in the Indie Comics scene, grinding away their time to forge page-turn-worthy legacies in the shadows of larger publishers. And they're doing amazing work.
Recently, I found my own work at a long-time indie publisher called Grok! Comics. They have exciting characters that bring a wholesome action-packed vibe to the page. The art and comic layouts are reminiscent of Xmen in the late 90s early 2000s. I was attracted to this company a little over a year ago. The book that attracted me to the company was an issue of The Remnants, an ongoing series of a team of heroes who protect the world against villainous threats.
Scan the QR Code below to find your way to the Grok! Comics storefront or simply type in the link in your search engine.
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Who is Black Cobra?
Shamir Moore is a young black evangelist who was on a missionary in Africa when he was bitten by a rare breed of cobra. Much like how Jennifer Walter's rare genetic makeup allowed her body to infuse with gamma radiation, Shamir's DNA became infused with the venom. The venom was fatal, but instead of it killing Shamir, it blessed him with enhanced abilities like strength, endurance, and venomous energy conducive at will with such precision that he can focus its effect to encapsulate his wrist blades or his entire body. It's unclear yet how this venomous energy afflicts its foes, but if the snake bite from the cobra that empowered Shamir was fatal and without a cure, then I can only imagine the side effects of being touched by it are astronomically agonizing.
Shamir joins the Remnants of the Grok! Comics Universe is a team comprised of many fascinating and colorful in-depth characters, which you can discover here on their website -- Grok! Comic Characters --
Black Cobra #0 The Breakdown
Issue zeroes are typically a set-up issue for a greater story arc, and it's really meant to get fans excited for a new title or character. Marvel has done this for years; if no one remembers this past year's Judgement Day Preview short anthology promotional comic that was released for Free Comic Book. We witnessed the birth of Marvel's potentially new female vamp slayer with the origins of Blade's daughter and the beginning of a conflict that pits The Eternals against the X-men with The Avengers dead smack in the middle.
In a nutshell, Black Cobra (aka Shamir Moore) is a new member of the Remnant team and trains really hard with Flameshot, Distant Thunder, and South Hawk. The training simulator is similar to the X-men's Danger Room, which was a big part of the set-up to Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand movie in the opening credits when Colossus throws Wolverine, in a comic book moment come to life, toward a sentinel gunning for their position. If I'm being honest, the moment reminded me of that time in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, where Legolas throws Gimili from the keep onto the bridge to stop the Uruk-hai from ramparting through the west gate. Fun and entertaining.
Fun Fact: I thought Urukai is how spelled the ork-like creatures in LODTR, but it's actually Uruk-hai... can I call Mandella effect here? LOL!
Shamir's holo-battle experience is much different from that of the X-men sequel opener because of his hesitation to deliver the last blow to a powerful villain. Even though he built up to it toward the end of the encounter, he still punished himself mentally. Like good teammates, Distant Thunder encouraged him to stay vigilant, followed by the reassuring banter of Flameshot, a long-time member of The Remnants.
by Bill Raupp
Fast forward, Shamir is seen with Dr. Sonya Riverdale, another enhanced individual and resident psychologist. After some time delay, Shamir has PTSD after an intense encounter with the same being he sparred against during his holo training at the beginning of the book. The book ends with a montage series of images showing our hero becoming the best version of the Black Cobra he can be with the help of prayer, training, and dieting, foreshadowing some inspiring quotes from Corinthians.
I'm not a fan of breaking up the story in such a way that it leaves much to be desired, but Bill Raupp has written over several dozen books, so what I want or would do differently is beyond relevant because he's successful the way he does it. Leaving some ominous events out of any story begs others to crave the finish line. In comics, sometimes you have to structure it that way to keep it interesting, save money, and keep the readers coming back. It's a great first appearance from the new lad sporting the cobra logo, but what will his future be like in the coming years? I can't say for certain, and I doubt that Bill would let me in on the secret just yet, but I hope to see more of Black Cobra in the future.
I would consider following The Remnant series to learn more about Black Cobra and stay up-to-date on the Grok! Comic Universe as a whole. Most of the characters in the compendium of supers from Grok seem to revolve around The Remnant series.
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Now moving along to my favorite part: Panels W/ Mike!
Art by Bonkz Arts
Black Cobra's Most Meaningful Moment
Some people initially get confused when learning storytelling because they don't understand that moving the story forward doesn't mean Bruce Willis has to press the detonator to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth. You don't have to climb atop a pile of metal rubble to use your adamantium-infused skeletal claws to stable the woman you love, who's the vessel of a cosmic destructive force. You don't have to fight a Mortal Kombat list of ex-girlfriends & boyfriends to win the affection of your current love interest. Those are over-dramatic interpretations of character choice that usually fall into critical beat moments or events that pivot the story.
Whenever I read a story or watch something, I always think about the meaningful moments because they're often overlooked and not often talked about. These are often referred to as emotional beats. Maybe Bill is aware of them, and maybe he isn't. However, he struck out in this touching moment between Shamir and Dr. Sonya. The moment in the series of panels in the above image shows our hero wrestling with his mental affliction, and at that moment, he has an epiphany that leads to a montage-heavy ending highlighting his road to recovery. You really need Remnants to understand Shamir's aftermath because it aligns with horror stories from Vietnam for those lucky soldiers who survived or escaped POW camps. It was a very inspiring moment, and the words that unlocked his door to understanding were simple.
This moment is most meaningful because the strongest thing a person can do above all else when changing, transforming, or recovering is simply say yes. Give yourself permission to love again. Give yourself permission to fight again. Give yourself grace when you fail, and give yourself forgiveness when you come up short. Life is too short for some people to stumble into the pitfalls of depression, but it happens.
Most importantly, ask for help. Even if you don't know what that means or looks like. It can be scary to reach out, but we must embrace the unknown because it is where our future resides.
If we want to reach that future, we climb the stairs of adversity with faith that every step is one moment closer to our best version. Shamir showed courage in saying yes and realizing his change. I'm not a big fan of montage exposition, but if there was no story to tell and only Shamir recovering, then I believe it would be less enthralling to visit that journey of 1990's version of Tony Stark visiting alcoholics anonymous.
It was a touching moment that deserved the spotting.
Black Cobra Do's and Don'ts!
Do not be the villain the Remnants are gunning to bring to justice. It doesn't look like you'd get very far if the training simulation is anything to take seriously. Do take a selfie when you can because that suit is fire. I wouldn't be able to fit in it, but the design is really original. I feel like the closest thing that I attribute the symbol of a cobra to in fiction would be the use of the cobra logo in GI Joe, but that symbol is far from the simplistic black color logo from the 80s. Don't tell Shamir I said that. Do tell him about this awesome blog I wrote on his behalf. I've got some action figures in my collection I'd love to photograph in comparison to Black Cobra; that would make for some great face-off posts. Don't bring a copy of Liam Neeson's Taken to Remnant's movie night at Taskforce HQ; it might trigger an episode that leaves you accidentally temporarily paralyzed.
I didn't talk about the villain a bunch in the initial breakdown, but this is Nephalim IV, and if you haven't figured it out yet, these comics are very much in the vein of Christian religious and historical themes. Nephalim is referred to, in the bible, as fallen angels. In other spectrums of recorded history, they were fallen angels, but they were giants, much like the ones in the story of David and Goliath. I suggest you pick up the Remnants books because it gives us that chunk of the story we're missing in this book, and it gets pretty heated and very hopeless for a while.
I chose these action panels because they showcase the angry side of Black Cobra's character, which you don't see in the others stories. I won't go into why he's angry because that's where you'll have to become a fan of Grok! Comics to learn more, but our third panel will illustrate why in a quick flashback that'll give you an idea. Look how far he sinks those wrist blades into the skull of Nephalim... geez! He's almost as furious and relentless as Logan on a good day. Notice the venom-tricity arcing from the blades. I really want some clarity on that specific ability. If you're as old as me, you might recall a movie called Mighty Joe Young. Towards the end, the bad guy gets knocked out by the same rare spider venom as the good guy at the beginning because the venom causes a visceral knockout effect. Remember the fruit in The Rundown? I watch way too many movies, lol.
Well, Bill, does the venom-tricity knock out its victims? Does it cause a burn or an electric effect similar to Miles Morales's electro-webs? I want to know more D$%#!! It's just an extraordinary ability. If Static Shock crossed capabilities with Iron Fist, THAT is what I attribute the skill set towards. Either way, you must admire how the artist Luis Rivera captures that back-to-front facing flip. I miss those effects from older Batman and Flash comics. I know modern-day editors abandon those effects to save on space and be more cinematic, but there is just a nostalgia to the technique of allowing those movements to prosper in real time that makes a reader focus on the page. Getting stabbed in the head looks like it hurts a lot, especially with venom-tricity laced onto the blade. It adds a whole new level to that phrase intellectuals ask, "Can I pick your brain?"
FREEZE, Cobra, this is not a simulation!
I'm not sure about that title for this panel choice, but I was thinking of The Mask when Lt. Kelleway told Mask (Jim Carey) to freeze after he distracted the entire New York Police, forcing them to do the mambo. Idk know why, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one; maybe someone is giggling right now, and that seems worth it to me. This last panel choice is a significant reason to pick up the Remnants books. Yes, it's a flashback.
Does anyone else but me think those shades are awesome? They probably wouldn't vibe well with all this Italian facial hair, but those are cool. Notice Black Cobra freezing in fear; that captures the tone. It's really talented to say so much in one panel. Do you really need me to tell you why Shamir might need therapy? I love the definition of Shamir's face, and I feel his facial features are consistent in this panel. Shamir looks somewhat aged compared to his younger appearance at the beginning and end of the book. In other larger snapshots, he also appears very youthful. The shading is well done, and the hair is very closely accurate.
I hear all the time from artists and even black artists that black hair is one of the hardest things to draw because it has so much character and style that most hairstyles are tedious to render, given the detail that goes into it. Nephalim IV is giving our beloved Black Cobra the Juda sweet accommodations and enjoying every second of it. This scene is the scene you'll hate this bad guy for sure, and when you're writing stories like this one, you have to sell your bad guy. If you fail to sell your villain, your hero will look weaker or boring because the villain's attributes don't compare to or exceed that of the heroes. This is one of the most difficult tasks for writers in the superhero/heroine genre.
If you're a writer working on your first or even your 40th book, ask yourself these questions: Who is my hero, and why do they do what they do with the power they have? Why does my hero have that power? Who is the villain in this story, and why are they evil compared to my hero? Do they have powers, and if they do, how do they use them to challenge the hero?
Your heroes must uphold justice or challenge the status quo, and your villains must go against the grain or invoke chaos. Somewhere in the middle, those two entities will need to meet in the middle so that the powers at play can challenge one another. Given the circumstances, either the hero will come out victorious, or they'll come out defeated because they were unprepared for the obstacle.
Thank you for sticking around for the end. If you'd be so kind as to head over to the rating page in the tab above and leave me a good rating. It would mean a lot to me and the podcast because when the podcast wins, the blog wins. Be on the lookout for my work in the credits of the upcoming Grok! Comic titles and get ready for Wild Oni later this year. Next year, 2023, will be the year of the Jaguar, which I've been hard at work getting appearances in other titles for Iron Jaguar in preparation for his debut title next year, which I'm looking forward to writing. Until next time TartN@tion--keep creating!
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