Over the course of the past decade or so, it’s become more common for comic book creators and writers to “step up” towards handling TV and film once they’ve attained enough success in the realm of comics. Easy examples include Mark Millar (who’s seen several of his creations become film and has been hired by Fox as a consultant), the late (and great) Dwayne McDuffie, and Brian K. Vaughan. However, we have also seen talent from the realm of TV take their experience and steer it towards the medium of comics to accomplish what few film or broadcast budgets would allow. One of these talents is Eric Dean Seaton, who has spent years directing no end of acclaimed shows on Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and Disney XD, going as far back as “That’s So Raven” in 2004. He’s gone on to take many of his ideas that have been honed during his years in TV and has created what stands to be an incredible supernatural epic with his own publication company, “And…Action Entertainment”.
His first major work with his publisher is the three part epic, “Legend of the Mantamaji”, the first volume of which hits print on October 8th; just in time for the New York Comic Con! Alongside artist Brandon Palas and colorist Andrew Dalhouse, the first volume of this trilogy gives readers all they need to know to jump right into the adventure and get treated to an awesome ride. Elijah Alexander is an arrogant and successful district attorney in NYC, riding high on his sixth straight prosecution victory, a steamy romance with police detective Sydney Spencer and plans to run for mayor. He’s come up from a life of poverty to having the city at his fingertips thanks in no small part to his mother Mariah, who raised him right and instilled strong values within him, which include regaling him with their own “book of legends” to drive those points home in a creative fashion. At the same time, the influence of the televangelist tycoon Brother Hope has reached near cult status around the globe as Sydney chases a masked crew of organized criminals who supposedly don’t exist. When a mysterious green cloaked man named Noah turns up with ties to his mother, Elijah’s world turns upside down as he finds himself drawn into an ancient supernatural struggle which he thought was just the stuff of fairy tales. It turns out that Elijah is the son of Candor, one of three mystical warriors of ancient Africa known as “the Mantamaji”. With this heritage comes great power, but also incredible danger as Elijah, his mother, Noah, and Sydney find themselves in the middle of a struggle which was centuries in the making.
“Legend of the Mantamaji” has something for everyone. It’s lead hero ends up with a great costume design and a terrific set of powers. The artwork by Palas and Dalhouse excels with strong line work and vibrant colors, creating something which any readers of mainstream superhero comics will be comfortable with, yet shines all its’ own. More importantly, Eric Dean Seaton brings it home with a script in which every character has their secrets. Origin arcs can get bogged down in exposition if a writer isn’t careful, and while this initial volume has a lot of it, the story always makes sure to keep things personal as well as keeping up the mysteries involving the cast. The action sequences are always fast paced and exciting, and the initial volume does a terrific job of setting up all of the rules and premises of the franchise while ending things on enough of a cliffhanger that fans will be chomping at the bit for the next volume.
Fans who bemoan the “big two” for a lack of vision or effort to create bold new characters and franchises should learn that innovation can often be found elsewhere. “Legend of the Mantamaji” has all of the excitement, imagination, and suspense to be a TV or film series on its’ own, but instead it is here as a comic to be enjoyed by the masses who crave them. “Legend of the Mantamaji” volume one is a must read for those who crave all of the spectacle and action of superhero comics yet want a comic which offers creative new ideas and a progressive storyline with real weight behind it. Look out for it in two weeks, and for volume two in December!