Excellence Vol.1 (Review): In An Aegis State Of Mind
Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Khary Randolph
Colorist: Emilio Lopez
Letterer: Deron Bennett
When this book first came out, I had no idea what to expect. I read the premise for the first issue and figured "Why not give it a shot?", little did I know that it would become one of my favorite books of last year. Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph put together a book full of heart, action and some of the best visual storytelling this medium has ever seen. This was a perfect example of that feeling you would get as kid discovering a new comic book and just becoming obsessed with it. I snatched up every single issue as they came out and pored over every page. I don't always pick up the trade for a book when I have the singles, but this was a series I knew was deserving of it.
As the book opens Thomas and Randolph quickly set you up by explaining The Four Walls, or rules of the Aegis, Which are,
I. The Protection and Defense of the Undeserving is Not Allowed.
II. The Creation of a Magician's Wand Without Permission is Not Allowed.
III. The Casting of Spells Without an Approved Wand is Not Allowed.
IV. The Use of Magic by Female's is Not Allowed.
They then show the four levels of magicians (Rooks, Patrons, The Tenth, and The Overseer). I loved that they did this from the get go, so we didn't have to spend any of the story explaining it
At the heart of this book is a son just trying to live up to his father expectations, but always seeming to come up short. Spencer wasn't able to get his mystic powers at the age most rooks develop them, instead as he got older a rage builds up inside of him which eventually is how his powers develop. During his trial to become a Patron, he proved all the naysayers wrong. Using unorthodox methods to protect his charge, he ascends to the level of Patron. Soon he will have a charge of his own to watch out for, as the Aegis have done for years.
The tragedy of something happening to his grandmother, sets Spencer on a path to not only save her but realizes in order to do that he has to take down the establishment, The Aegis, and will do so no matter the cost. What was already a fragile relationship between father and son, becomes even more complicated.
Growing up, Spencer's father always favored another young man training in the ways of the Aegis, Aaron, which in turn caused Spencer to hate them both. So of course when Spence heads down this path, Aaron is the one who gets tasked with taking him down. But when they meet, the fight quickly becomes something neither one of them expected. A deal with the mysterious Overseer, turns into a problem that will have lasting impacts.
With things seemingly calmed down, Spencer continued his work which lead him to having to bring Aaron in. You see, Aaron broke a rule, he became involved with one of his charges (person he was supposed to guide/protect). Of course Spencer is the one who has to take him down though. Yet another battle between these two ends almost in death. What happened next was not something you could have seen coming. Their minds meld because of the magic they use towards one another in the battle. It sets up an interesting turn in the series and this is when it became one of my favorite books of the year.
Following the battle Spencer's on the run. His father sets Monique (an interesting new character who almost has a Shuri vibe) to follow him and keep an eye on him. But he wants Spencer to know, kind of keep him on his toes. The crazy part is that Spencer's dad gives Monique a wand, even though women aren't allowed to use magic. It's here that you can see his father isn't exactly what he seems to be.
While Spencer seeks to have Aaron's memories removed from his head, he sneaks into the Floe to get to Aaron's wand. This is where the crazy shit happens. As he's trying to recreate the conditions that cause his and Aaron's mind to meld together. He starts hearing different voices, then the bomb drops. His father enters his mind. He tells him that his Gigi's death wasn't an accident, it was retaliation towards his father. These pages by Khary are absolutely bonkers, it's almost not fair how good this dude is. The depiction of power flowing out of Spencer
It seems that Spencer's father had been setting stuff up for quite some time. The rebellion against The Aegis is just beginning.
The book takes another interesting turn as this volume closes out, Aaron and Spencer join forces to take down the Aegis. The mind meld helped both of the understand each other on a deeper level and is helping create a bond of brotherhood. I can't wait to see what the future means for these two going forward.
Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph has created such a rich world of characters with so many twists and turns, that you can't help but want more. Couple that with lightning quick art from Randolph and it's a crime not pick up this book. Every month these guys continue to show us that...
EXCELENCE Is Real