Barding It Up

Since 2021, co-founders Tim Stolinski and Chris Benamati have been chugging along like the Little Engine That Could with their Indie Publisher known as Band of Bards, aka BoB. Putting out 15 books such as Coins Of Judas, Final Gambit, Working Class Wizards, and American Dreams in a short amount of time with a fantastic roster of creative talent. Not to mention the fact that I failed to realize until now that Nick Goodwin/Chuck Satterlee’s Working Class Wizards was essentially the starting point for my travels into BoB. Thanks guys!

And after spending some time reading some more of the works this sleeping Dragon of a Publisher has put out, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on each title.

Magni The Mighty #1-2 Combo
Written and Created by: Devin Arscott
Pencils, Inks, and Co-Creator: David Monge Bautista
Colors: Ibraham Aydin
Letters: LetterSquids

By now, you all know I’m a huge fan of takes on the various Mythologies out there in the world and Devin Arscott/David Monge Bautista’s Magni The Mighty is one such take on the Norse Mythology. Particularly set AFTER Ragnarok and focuses on Thor’s two sons; Magni and Modi. Who, while are in Norse Mythology lore, don’t have a lot known about them. Which can give a lot of leeway in allowing one to create stories around them and Devin and David certainly do this! Magni to me is clearly the younger of the two Brothers and easily has his old man’s more impulsive habits while Modi doesn’t as he’s likely worked those habits out long before the events of this story takes place but I could be wrong in my thinking of these two. And being among the few survivors of Ragnarok, these two have a lot to deal with and its fortunate they are able to get along for the most part or things would be a lot harder!

We see these two get guided to where they need to be to get a start on their destinies thanks in part to a stranger. One I’m not so sure should be trusted but hey, that’s just me. And given Magni’s habits, its easier to see why Modi’s more fit to be the next All-Father while Magni himself is more fit for following in their dad’s footsteps. Though as we see as the story goes on, it kinda looks like Magni’s got it a bit easier then what Modi does but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I really enjoyed this take from Devin and David as its not often you see content that explores a post Ragnarok world and I hope Ibraham Aydin and LetterSquids are a part of future issues.

Future issues I look forward to reading when the time comes as I’m looking forward to seeing how Magni deals with a situation he’s gotten into thanks in part to old family secrets while Modi’s own journey is on going and a bit painful!

The Cauldron: A Haunting Of You
Written by: C.J. Hudson
Illustrated and Colored by: Ile Gonzalez
Lettered by: Jerome Gagnon
Edited by: Latasha Hudson

The Cauldron is the story of a young witch by the name of Cza, who has six days to properly summon a Demon Lord or face some serious consequences. So, you know, no pressure there! Though really, you would think more time than 6 days would be given for something of this magnitude! And I’m curious as to how that got started to begin with and perhaps C.J. Hudson will explore that in the future if he decides to revisit this idea since its just a one-shot at the moment. Unfortunately for young Cza, she’s got a lot of distractions along the way to deal with, including her own clumsiness. So anything could go wrong at any time and that’s definitely got to weigh on her mind!

And then of course, there’s Mister Crinklebutt, the groundskeeper of Elmlock Castle. The location of where Cza is staying for 6 days in order to summon her own personal Demon Lord. And this poor guy is something of a victim at times of Cza’s clumsiness!

But at least he’s not a jerk about it so there’s that, though that’s largely perhaps due to the connection he has with her family more than anything else that we readers learn about. I really enjoyed Ile Gonzalez’s art and colors through out this book, a book that easily could have been a Horror story alongside the Mystical Supernatural elements given what Cza’s goal is. I can’t say I was huge on Jerome Gagnon’s lettering as it did feel a bit small to read but ultimately it doesn’t make it difficult to read the story. Nicely enough, there’s also a bit of learning to be done thanks to this book and I really hope C.J. does return to this idea as I want to see what else he has in store.

Especially with the end goal of Cza’s! Which, thanks to what appears to be some clueless naivety on her part, I don’t think she realizes how serious things may actually be.

Worlds Away #1-2 Combo
Written by: Damien Becton
Illustrated by: Christian Prunesti and Marco Del Forno
Colored by: Luana Cristini
Lettered by: Reed Hinckley-Barnes
Edited by: Devin Arscott

A mother/daughter duo in a Sci-Fi setting that’s crashi landed on a planet that’s not only dangerous and archaic but mystical as well? Sign me up, boys! Momma Serenity and daughter Mackenzie have definitely got their work cut out for them, that’s for sure! And that’s not including the fact the two are at odds with one another. Well, its mostly on Mackenzie’s part but Serenity really doesn’t seem to help the situation any. But its kind of understandable why Serenity’s being a tad hard on her in order to ensure she’s going to be okay given all the unknowns of their situation. Though as we learn through out this combo, we see that Serenity’s always been a little… Difficult to deal with and this situation just doesn’t help any.

Christian Prunesti and Marco Del Forno do a great job with the suit designs we see our lead gals in. Suits that I think would be perfect for a Power Ranger to wear for that matter.

Christian and Marco I feel did a great job in bringing this alien world to life and I do hope we see more of it in future issues. Though I will say now that I was not a huge fan of Reed Hinckley-Barnes’ lettering work when it came to the narrative in the beginning pages due to the fact they aren’t in speech bubbles/boxes. As for me, it made it a little hard to read as I had to really look to see what was said. This later also became an issue when we meet a rather problematic witch who gives our gals a run for their money. As reading her dialogue in her speech bubbles was, for me at least, difficult at times. Especially due to the small lettering at certain moments that makes the white on black hard to read. Hopefully in the future, this is less of a problem.

We also get to meet K’lar and Cylu in these two issues, a father/daughter duo who live on this oh so fun planet. And thanks to them, we get to learn a bit more about the planet as well and what else is in store for our lead gals. Which… Honestly? Just seems like a lot more trouble! Damien Becton has hooked me and I can’t wait to see what he has in store next! And nicely enough, the 3rd/4th issue combo is available as well in pre-order mode!

Coins Of Judas #1-2 Combo
Created by: Travis Gibb and Tyler Carpenter
Illustrated by: Tyler Carpenter
Colors by: Rolands Kalnins
Lettered by: Jerome Gagnon
Edited by: Heather Gibb

Coins Of Judas, like Magni The Mighty, is another take on a source of lore. But instead of one of the Pantheons, its the Christian Mythology and I do apologize if anyone gets offended by my wording as not intended. Only with this, Travis Gibb and Tyler Carpenter explores one possibility of what happened after a guilty Judas dropped his 30 pieces of Silver. And that possibility makes this story ripe for a Supernatural Horror telling in my view due to the warped evilness the Coins bring about on anyone who’s unlucky enough to come across them. Luckily for us normal folks, we’ve got the Westergaard family to defend us folks from its evils! Though it doesn’t appear Barney is one of those. Unfortunately, by the time of the events of the first two issues, we see the toll this duty has had on the family.

Leading to what is quite possibly the last of the family in the form of a brother/sister duo named Gunther and Sophia. One of whom is trying to get out of the whole thing with little luck and perhaps a desire to strangle the other sibling!

Since, you know, said sibling dragged the other back into something they honestly didn’t want to be part of again and also did something with a coin they shouldn’t have. Leading to some trouble that honestly? Probably makes prison look really good. I do love that there was an attempt at peaceful resolutions between both sides and how far one side’s willing to go to get the coins for their side. And due to the subject matter, this is definitely not a book for the squeamish or the young as Tyler’s art is a little brutal and Rolands’ colors help bring it to life awesomely so in my view.

I’m curious to see where Travis and Tyler go with this idea next and how much Sophia will come to regret the decision she makes at the end of this combo. The second arc in the series, known as the Gambler, is also available with its two issue arc!

Lycan: Girls Night
Written by: C.J. Hudson
Illustrated and Colored by: Mary Landro
Lettered by: Jerome Gagnon
Edited by: Latasha Hudson

I think I’ve said this before and if I haven’t, forgive me, but I love Werewolves. I prefer them way more than what I do Vampires as Werewolves in my view don’t get enough love. And I think I vaguely remember this particular book catching my interest some time ago because its a Werwolf book but never had an opportunity to read it until recently and it was enough to satisfy my Werewolf loving self while wanting and hoping there’s more at some point. Though I have to admit, the way this book is titled, it had me thinking this was a side story in the main storyline but as I learned that wasn’t the case.

In fact, this feels like it largely sets up a greater storyline given the situation our three Wolf Gals are having to deal with yet again by the end of this issue. When all they wanted was to be free of certain issues and have fun. Y’know, things every girl wants in life. I’m also loving the fact this is done in black and white, giving it that old school monster movie feel to it.

Go Mary Landro! Absolutely loving her art by the way in this.

Of course, when you have too much fun, you’re liable to overlook some things and if our gals survive whatever C.J. Hudson has in mind with this idea, I imagine Megan will be strongly keeping that in mind. I’m also curious as to who this ‘Him’ is that is mentioned by some unwanted guests into the lives of our three girls. Probably not a very good person if he’s one of the reasons the ladies fled to live their lives in secret and have families and all that good fun stuff. Where do the ladies go next from here? Will secrets be spilled? Only C.J. knows and hopefully he’s willing to share soon!

Vigia #1
Created by: C.J. Hudson and Ben Flores
Written by: C.J. Hudson
Illustrated and Colored by: Rodrigo Gil
Lettered by: Toben Racicot
Edited by: Latasha Hudson

The fact Vigia’s main character is a Female Alien lead by the name of Gazala and like Worlds Away, largely has nothing to do with Earth, makes me really happy. As I’ve personally felt we need more non-Human leads in stories and probably even said as much at some point. The fact her AI named Adi has their own personality and is basically Gazala’s best friend is something else I like. The fact that Gazala is a Scientist whose job is to basically discover/catalog new things on various planets is pretty neat and basically this helps promote STEM for girls. Though that may be unintentional on C.J. Hudson and Ben Flores’ part or perhaps its not and its actually intentional. But its something to ask either one if the chance ever comes up!

And naturally, you just got to love when a well deserved break goes sideways thanks to something interrupting it! Said something being a planet with the ability to tractor beam unsuspecting folk like Gazala and Adi and that just being entirely rude!

But hey, any landing you survive is a good landing, right? Right! Leading us readers to meet a little robot fella by the name of Mure (who may or may not be trustworthy) sometime later and getting a history lesson in the process about the planet and the people that were once there. And essentially getting the set up for a quest that’ll help Gazala and Adi out. Though the entire thing could all be in Gazala’s head and it’ll be fun to see if whether or not that’s the case here. I really enjoyed Rodrigo Gil’s art and colors here and the fact he didn’t sexualize Gazala is another point in his favor here. As doing so would have just been very unnecessary.

The fact there’s four other issues out at this point means I’ve got some catching up to do and I’m happy to do so whenever I get a chance. And more exposure to Toben Racicot is always good in my book!

Final Gamble #1
Written by: Robyn Singer
Illustrated by: Jorge Santiago JR.
Colors by: Harry Saxon
Lettered by: George Gant

Straight off the bat, Robyn Singer drives home the point of just why Gambling is bad and shouldn’t be done unless its with people you know for a fact aren’t going to mess you over. Another lesson is that team work makes the dream work. A lesson our boys Danny and Jasmeet will remember for the rest of their lives by the time all’s said and done. It should also be said that Final Gamble is the first book that was published by Band of Bards back 2021 and has 2 more issues out as well. Making our boys’ journey that much more intense as they have a lot on their shoulders and its all thanks to Gambling!

Mandy is definitely not someone I’d want to meet as she just seems a little crazy given the look one sees in her eyes at one point.

I love that Robyn doesn’t really bother with an origin story to explain what led to the current situation Danny and Jasmeet are in aside from some hints here and there. Danny’s a gambling addict and Jasmeet’s an MMA Fighter and a family man who has done something to disgrace himself.

What that is, no one knows and why he resorted to gambling is anyone’s guess aside from Robyn. Its a great way to drive the mystery forward as the boys do what they can to try and win against Mandy and her friends. Unfortunately as we see, Lady Luck is just not on their side and that leads to an oh so lovely cliffhanger once Danny wakes up. Though where Jasmeet is, is unclear and there’s no telling how long it was before Danny woke up. I have definitely got to put some money aside so I can catch up on this series (and others) to see how things are going for the boys given the summary I’ve seen for this book.

This, to my knowledge, is the first time I’ve read anything by Robyn and I look forward to reading more of her work when I get a chance. It was also a treat to see more of Jorge Santiago JR.’s work as well for me. Whether or not Danny and Jasmeet survive this experience with all their limbs intact is something I look forward to seeing!

Every writer in this write up is someone whose work is something I haven’t read before until now and I absolutely love that while also at least being somewhat familiar with them thanks to Social Media. Along with the various creative teams they have as well being a first for me in some cases and it shows BoB’s commitment to Representation, Inclusion, and Diversity. They easily could have just focused on doing Super Hero books since that’s a favorite for some and just kept going from there but they didn’t do that and its a damn good thing in my book.

BoB essentially has something for everyone thanks to covering various genres and not tying everything into one shared universe or focusing on just one or two genres. That they do #1-2 combos for several of their titles is another nice touch and is definitely worth the money since they’re almost like a trade themselves.

BoB gave these creators a chance to shine and they’ll continue to do so and I look forward to covering more BoB when the chance presents its self. Band of Bards is not a Publisher to sleep on and if you haven’t yet, give them a chance! They are up there in quality content alongside the likes of Mad Cave and Vault and I’m confident they’ll be doing so for years to come. Publishers like BoB are why I love the Indies as much as I do and try to do my best to cover them thanks to all the fantastic work they do. Comics aren’t dead, they’re alive and well in my book!

Reviewed by: Rob Wrecks