Comic Book Review: Beats of War by Etienne Kubwabo

So this is my first comic book review and I’m still working out how exactly I’m going to do these reviews so please bear with me. I think I’ll start with a little bit about the author. Etienne Kubwabo, who gave us Scotland’s first black superhero, is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who moved to Scotland, he attended West College Scotland, when it was still Clydebank College, having attended the college myself I was inspired by how the media course he was on helped him on his journey to become a filmmaker, DJ and most relevant to what we are talking about today, a comic book writer. 

Next, a little bit about the comic, it follows the main character DJ ET who flees his home planet which is being ravaged by robot invaders, he comes to earth, specifically to Glasgow, where he discovers music and fights crime. Having done a little research before buying a copy of the comic, Etienne said to the BBC that the experiences in the comic book are reflective of his own experiences in coming to Glasgow as a refugee, both positive and negative and how Glasgow has become his home. If you are interested in learning more about Etienne, I will attempt to secure an interview with him in the near future so hopefully watch this space for that. 

Okay, let’s talk about the comic, firstly it’s so great to see Scotland in a comic book, and with recognisable features as well. It’s great to see superheroes right on your doorstep, so to speak. New York has about a thousand superheroes so it’s about time Glasgow had one too. 

I feel that sometimes the dialogue felt a little strained but I think even for people who’ve lived in Scotland all their lives, capturing the distinct style and cadence of Glasgow patter can be difficult. I sure couldn’t do it, and Etienne does it well overall. Despite that I do think that Etienne handles humour really well, for example when he announces in response to where he’s been living, he responds ‘Another Planet’ and it’s very tongue in cheek and funny. 

I really liked the subplot with ET’s blood and its qualities which make it very valuable. I won’t elaborate too much as I don’t want to spoil anything but it adds additional risks and potential to the story. The big thing though, is the hook at the end, he’s barely on this planet and he’s made enemies, powerful enemies that hearken back to Glasgow’s own violent history in the 1920 to 30s. 

The action was awesome too, Ben Wilsonham, the artist has incredible skill. He really brings the scene to life with careful use of colour and shadow, everything is really richly drawn and stylised. Plenty of personality just coming off the page. 

Overall I give issue 1 a 5/5 and would recommend that you get yourself a copy because it’s fun, well written and has a really interesting story that borrows lightly from other comic books while presenting a genuinely cool and engaging hero. The conclusion sets itself up perfectly for the next issue, and the overarching story including ET’s people and his origins are ripe to be explored. 

Anyway you can purchase the comic book by clicking here, and you can find Etienne on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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