New Masters is a beautifully crafted series with a distinctive African point of view filtered through the wonderful realm of science fiction that brings to life a deep and developed and intriguing world that a reader will want to explore more and more. This debut issue builds a solid foundation for the series as a whole while also working to showcase some truly stunning vistas and the variety of realms within the cityscape that focus on the human plight that many still find to be a reality even in this futuristic world.
Comic books are a truly glorious medium that allows for exploration of so many realms, bringing stunning vistas and deep characters and anything the imagination can dream up to colorful life. Sure there are movies and tv shows and other mediums that can do the same, but comics often have the leg up on the fact that they have no budget meaning they can go anywhere and create anything but also bring the world of prose and imagery into such a perfect marriage.
All of this is a long way to talk about how truly awesome the first issue of Image Comics’ New Masters is as both a comic book and as a storytelling experience.
Science fiction has been a favorite since as far back as I can remember, having been introduced to it very early on with things like Star Trek and Star Wars among other things. Blending that with adventure, drama and Afrofuturism makes for a vibrant combination.
Brothers Shobo Coker and Shof Coker have created something that is unique amongst the variety of comics that are on the shelves. There are plenty of science-fiction tales of this type, but to have one from a Nigerian and African point of view is not common at all.
I truly appreciate stories that throw the reader into the middle of the action/deep end and then pull back to give a wider view of the world. Right away we’re treated to young Ola and her robotic companion Ashe as they are on the hunt for the rare substance known as Obsidium and end up taking on some strange creature within the dead old ship they are raiding. It sets the tone of not just the series in some ways but right away allows us to get to know the protagonist in action rather than just spending time telling us about them.
Shobo has an interesting writing style in giving us enough to know what is happening without feeling the need to overly indulge in explanation which is a nice aspect. This works well with his brother Shof’s artistic style, with Julmae Kristoffer on color assists. which is so dense and detailed as he’s able to lay out tight confined action stuff right next to a slew of gorgeous landscape shots before moving into futuristic cityscapes that feel out of this world yet homey.
Truthfully this issue throws a lot at the reader the deeper it gets with a lot of colorful characters popping up to be part of the overall plot, but none of it feels truly overwhelming. We’re given around half the issue to follow Ola as our central focus before it starts to shift around and that definitely helps. There is a lot that is said or pops up that might go over one’s head or not hit right away but that’s fine, as there are more issues where things will begin to gel.
Honestly, I like stories that just go full in and don’t take the time to explain every last detail. It makes the world feel lived in and real and deep.
Another artistic flair that was really cool is how a lot of the SFX here just sort of flow into the artwork which has a sort of muted color tone to it while still being colorful and bright. All of the dialogue and bubbles too are different for different characters/elements rather than being just purely uniform which is always fun. Lastly, the paneling choices are intriguing as there is a lot of well-used white/black space in order to frame the panels which adds a bit of a pop to it all.
Overall, this is a truly intriguing first issue and definitely leaves one clamoring to see more of this world and what comes next.
New Masters #1 is now on sale in print and digitally from Image Comics.