If you’re into Inuyasha, Avatar: Legends of Korra, or Digimon (stick with me folks), Celflux might be for you. Issue two was just released by newcomers Dixi Ann Archer-McBain and Edward J. McBain, who are married.
The creator’s website explains the book like this: “…a sci-fi, action-adventure, about OKIRA. A young, benevolent, kind-hearted priestess who becomes the involuntary leader of a disjointed group of strangers. They wake up one day in a remote lab without any memory of how they got there, or what happened to them.”
We can already see A:LOK themes in the book. A group of youths, misplaced, on the verge of global war come together to save the day. There’s a very anime flavor to the story. The dialogue is oddly clunky and expositional. What’s happening is right there and in your face. This will undoubtedly be the thing that either brings fans in or turns people away.
It’s an ambitious project. Each stranger, at least visually, has roots based in a real world culture. The problem is it’s difficult to tell which culture each person belongs to. Granted, this is the second issue so this might be an instance where you have to read on for a few more issues before everything is revealed.
I saw some Maasai in Okira’s tribe. Several men dance Adumu, a Maasai warrior tradition. Ahoteh, a warrior from Tandra might be Chinese based off costuming and his staff fighting which looks like Yin Shou Gun. My question is if these characters are based on real world cultures why not just set the story in the real world? This feels like a missed opportunity to explore our own world’s disputes and shortcomings.
So far, each conflict could be handled in a sci-fi version of Earth, where issues surrounding race, territory disputes, and cultural heritage could have been discussed with meaning. This is not to say the creators won’t be able to accomplish this on their new planet. In the original Star Trek the first interracial kiss was shown on television. They could do it because they were in space and in the future. But in a self-published book there are no censors to dance around.
Okira is badass. Her wardrobe design is on point. The bright red, flowing, priestess uniform looks amazing! I can already see it traipsing down convention floors behind Luminara Undali and Storm. That ankh purse is to die for.
One of the coolest things about Okira is her familiar, a beast Ahoteh refers to as a Black Lava Chimera. Like any good mage, Okira has acquired a protector for battles where it seems she’ll take the role of healing. She’s already demonstrated her impressive skills on Ahoteh’s son who had some strange living virus inside of him. This is where Animorph’s influance comes in and just dominates the book. Cinder, Okira’s familiar, is tall like a horse, but built like a tiger. I can’t wait to see this thing in combat.
Speaking of combat, there’s no shortage of fighting in this issue. In the first act we see Ahoteh fighting mercenaries from entering his community. Then, in the third act we see two keepers, Genocyde and Indigo, fire bending and electro bending. Yet again, a bomb idea that isn’t executed to its full potential. There’s a lack of style and movement to their fighting. Geocyde and Indigo are supposed to be scientifically improved beings and the greatest fighters in their group, but their fight looks just like Ahoteh’s. There’s nothing to show why they’re SO much better.
Overall wardrobe is also an issue. Though the designs on most of the costumes are on par with the books contemporaries all of the fabric looks the same, like wet silk. There are six characters from six different territories. Three look like their clothes are made of the same, very thin, material. The other three have armor. It all looks the same.
These are not uniforms. It’s the traditional garb of each individual’s region. To make matters worse all of the costumes are monochromatic. This would have been a great opportunity to show off each culture. Ahoeth in the forest should wear something completely different than Okira in the savannah.
The dialogue is also problematic. For example, a group of foreign soldiers refers to Ahoteh as Gypsy. This is a word filled with a venomous history. Yet, the story doesn’t use it as a swear. They don’t really use it at all. Ahoteh has no reaction to the word. The word is never mentioned again, in this issue of the comic. No one refers to Ahoteh as Gypsy and he never refers to himself as Gypsy. It feels like a throwaway.
Celflux is a gallant effort that falls short of it’s potential. This is a real shame because the comic’s community as a whole is crying out for comics just like this. We want diverse team books. We want to hear from creators of color and new voices. With only two issues released it’s not too late to right the ship. There’s a solid foundation, but the little details that take a work from ok to good are missing. Given more time to these creators might surprise us yet.