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Spotlight on ComiXology Submit – Uncaged And Moros: A Hard Boiled Hero

By Patrick McAleer

There was an art-form that reached its zenith in the 1980's and early 90's before it's inexorable decline in the face of a drive for ever more realism and the curse of CGI. That art-form, the humble action movie, perpetually (and criminally) ignored by the 'Academy' and other pretentious award shows, is nevertheless cherished by millions and kept alive in people's hearts thanks to the images of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Gibson, Willis and Seagal et al peering out from countless DVD collections the world over. Which is why Uncaged is manna from heaven for action movie aficionados. Hard-boiled anti-hero cop who does things his own way? Check. Criminal mastermind with a devious plan to imperil innocent civilians whilst enriching himself? Check. Love interest who can hold her own in a gun-fight? Check.

uncagedWritten by Ben Bailey and art by Taylor Stauft after a suscessful Kickstarter camapign, all the essential elements of the action genre are here as this first issue takes place within the confines of a zoo and believe me when I say, Bailey and Stauft make full use of the possibilities that location throws up. With a superbly villainous character who reminds me of Tommy Lee Jones' William Strannix from Under Siege, this title hits all the right notes. (INSERT PANEL HERE)

Stauft's art is excellent, particularly during the more kinetic scenes. You name it, fist-fight, gun-fight, knife-fight, this guy can nail them all. It's not often you're going to get a giraffe and a rhinoceros as pivotal figures in a gun-fight (no the animals don't fire guns themselves) which is why Uncaged is so damn fun. Stauft has crafted some truly beautiful and indeed graphic depictions of violence and Bailey's writing is pitch-perfect, with plenty of easter eggs for fans of the genre peppering this first issue. In John Dakota they have a leading man as quick with his fists as he is with his wisecracks, who can stand alongside the likes of Martin Riggs and John McClane. As a love letter to the era when mirrored sunglasses and toothpicks in your mouth was cool (still are in my book…hiya Cobra) Uncaged is a joy to read, so do yourself a favour and download this first issue.

Next up is Moros: A Hard Boiled Hero, written by J.A Lucas with art by Tamal Saha. This seems like a really intriguing concoction of detective noir crossed with a bit of 'superheroics'. Set in the fictional Bay city, which finds itself in thrall to mobsters who have the establishment in their back pocket, with a new drug sweeping the streets, causing mayhem as it's users become both fearless and feel no pain.

MorosCharting the exploits of Detective Ed Knight, a man jaded by the futile struggle for justice against those who can just buy their way out of it. The art from Saha is superb, his thin line-work is sublime with brialliantly rendered characters set admidst often incredibly detailed backgrounds. Delivered in a black and white format which exudes the nourish tone of the book. (INSERT PANEL HERE)

Gritty and grimey back streets and alleys, the bottle strewn, dilapidated apartment of our central protagonist reflecting his tortured and cluttered mind in this city at war with itself. The scripting from Lucas is tight and top-notch, as he delivers plenty of exposition in Detective Knight's inner monologue even as he's in the midst of an argument with his boss.

When the action scenes come, they come with a vengeance as Saha's diagonal panelling makes one violent page in particular, instantly memorable. The dark, melancholic tone of the book rams home it's nourish roots and as this first issue ends, the conflict we witness Detective knight going through in his mind as he attempts to hold his crumbling world together, definitely hooks us in as readers. An altogether wonderful piece of storytelling, again demonstrating the talent that Comixology's Submit platform can give voice to.

Honourable mentions go to Last Confession #1 written by D.C Walker with art by Max Dubar – a gritty tale centred around a priest with a past as he and his fellow priests try to carry on the Lord's work in a poor parish in north Philadelphia. With tight art and themes such as forgiveness and redemption and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, this is well worth a look. And lastly Big Zeke, a collection of short stories by various creators in the Blaxploitation vein about the eponymous Zeke. Think of him as Luke Cage's cousin from Detroit and you'll get the picture. Great fun.

Another strong week for Comixology's Submit platform and demonstrates the wealth of talent that deserves your attention just as much as those working for the big publishers.

Patrick McAleer lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland with his John Carpenter DVD collection and his long boxes of silver age Marvel and noir comics. He loves Gambit and thinks you should too. Catch him on Twitter @RepStones

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Hannah Means ShannonAbout Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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