Villain or mind-controlled hero? Find out in the knock-down, drag-out brawls of "Ajax Awakening #1"

Writing/Layout Assist/Colors: Jeremy Scott Browning, Art/Inks: Leo Gondim, Letters: HDE, Cover A Art: Leo Gondim

Ajax Awakening #1, a new comic from new comic creators, distributed through small press Short Fuse Media, wisely helps prospective readers by describing itself at the top of its cover with four words: TITANS…SORCERY…RETRIBUTION…REDEMPTION. The cover is dramatic, with a well-designed, bold title logo, coloring covering the entire spectrum, and solid illustration…an eye-catching cover worthy of sharing the local comic shop rack next to Ant-Man and Batman. Would the story inside be as worthy?

For reasons that weren’t apparent or explained in this issue, this story takes place “in an alternate dimension mirroring that of earth.” Two super-powered beings, the rocky beast Ruckus, and an armored man called Omega Mauler, spend the entire issue knocking the stuffing out of each other, in well-choreographed and vicious style.

Curiously, the entire fight is being called blow-by-blow by two play-by-play announcers, who are viewing footage of the fight remotely. Where is all this footage coming from? Who is filming it? Who are these broadcasters? Is this showing live to the public? Is this a common form of entertainment on this alternate earth?

"Ajax Awakening #1" interior art

A lot of space is devoted to the announcers bickering over the fighters’ motivations, and whether the one called Omega Mauler, a former hero named Ajax, is really being mind-controlled by a villain.

Having just been introduced to the character Ajax, the reader doesn’t have enough history or backstory of the character to feel much sympathy for his situation, especially since we are only told, and not shown, that he was a hero in the past, and the only visuals we see are damning videos of evil deeds. It’s hard to care much for someone we've just met whether or not he escapes mind-control.

However, the entire story is very well illustrated and expertly colored, the fight scenes are especially entertaining, featuring interesting panel layouts and panel-breaking effects to add depth and make the characters jump off the page. The dialogue was solid, only descending into cheesiness when the main villain spoke, but perhaps that’s to be expected, hmm?

In all, Ajax Awakening #1 is a surprisingly good first issue from new comics creators.

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