Back in the day like many of you who grew up before video games and 400 channels on TV, I was an avid comic book reader. Believe it or not you could almost guarantee seeing a prepubescent James at any comic convention held during the summer on the east coast. But lately not so much, as my time is more limited and tastes has changed from big-titted anime broads and the Punisher blowing everything up, to smarter and more engaging comic stories. I also have sex now and that broke into 99.9999% of my comic reading time.
Due to the above it has been a while since I have found a series that was good enough for me to put down the vagina for a bit and pick up a comic instead. The last good one I read was Transmetropolitan, and that set such a high standard in the “entertaining and smart” category I can rarely get past the first three pages of other comics these days.
So when I first heard there was a comic about PMC’s plying their trade in a future Iraq I prepared myself to be disappointed and possibly angry. Even having the pre-conserved notion that it would make me sad, I went ahead and ordered the Black Powder Red Earth series from Amazon because I found an Amazon gift card that was about to expire.
When it arrived my first surprise was that it was written by an Asian guy with a mad FOB name, “Jon Chang” – that's real original mom and dad Chang. In my contracting career I can count how many Asian contractors I have run into without having to take my shoes off, so how much could this dude know about doing cool contractor shit? (I am Asian so I can make fun of other Asian people and you can't, ha! nanny nanny boo-boo stick your head in doo-doo). My second thought was “who is this ass-hole think he is writing a comic about my mother-fucking world son!?
Well guess who is the ass-hole this article turned out to be?
Me Son! - because Black Powder Red Earth (or “BPRE” because every nerd has to fucking use an acronym for anything cool) is one of the smartest and engaging comic series I have read.
Jon Chang wraps BPRE around a realistic portrayal of a pair of PMC contractors in the not so near future Iraq, who are high speed professionals on the job but do stupid contractor shit like buy expensive sports cars and mountains of guns despite being home for less than a month a year.
And don't let the “future” part scare you off, you won't see flying motorcycles or Contractors shooting laser rifles (fuck you CODMW). This is just far enough ahead to see what is basically happening to Iraq now. Regional powers destabilizing Iraq until it splits apart, home grown militias sweeping in during a power void, and Corporations taking advantage of it all to make a buck. I swear it's like Jon Chang was staring into a crystal ball looking at the future with his squinty eyes when he wrote this. It's almost eerie how accurate his portrayal of Iraq is in the few years down the timeline where this story takes place.
The artwork is masterfully penned by Josh Taylor in a unique but familiar style that perfectly blends the combination of heavy border lines and the dramatically contrasting dark and bright color palate together beautifully. For the non-comic nerds out there that basically means “this shit looks pretty”.
While we are on the subject I want to take a second to explain why this is a “Comic Book” and not a “Graphic Novel”.
There is no such fucking thing as a “Graphic Novel”, that term was started in the 90’s around the time that The Dark Night Returns came out and the Watchmen series was added to Time Magazine’s 100 Best English-Language novels list. This was the dot com boom equivalent of the comic world when comics became mainstream, more mature, darker and had deep, complicated character development.
It was because pusses and snobs were embarrassed to say they read “Comic Books” so they made up the term “Graphic Novel”. Somehow they thought saying “I am reading a Graphic novel” instead “I read comic books” would make them sound refined and not the closet nerd they really are.
So don't be a puss, if you read comic books then say “I read comic books, if you have a problem with that I will skull-fuck your terrierdoodle” – own up to your inner nerd.
And buy the whole Black Powder Red Earth “Comic Fucking Book” Series at the same time. Don't be that comic guy who just buys the first one to see if they will like it when everyone else on the planet says it’s a great read.
Seriously, everyone hates that guy, that guy is on Facebook right now arguing with people on the Star Wars page about how you would cut your fingers off if your light saber had laser hilts, you don't want to be that guy. Save yourself time and shipping costs and just buy the whole series in one bang, curl up with your cats and read it in one sitting.
BPRE at Amazon.com: Buy BPRE HERE >>> BPRE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlackPowderRedEarth BPRE Website: http://www.blackpowderredearth.com/
~James "ARCHER" Price Founder – Editor in Chief DVM
James P. is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and despite taking a year to write this review it still has typos in it.