Graphic Novel Review- LEGEND OF THE MANTAMAJI by Eric Dean Seaton and Brandon Palas

I recently got my hands on the first two volumes of Legend of the Mantamaji, an epic urban fantasy which follows the transformation of Elijah Alexander from a young and ambitious assistant district attorney into a warrior of mythical proportions. 

Here's the sales pitch:
Television director Eric Dean Seaton’s first graphic novel series is a tale exploding with brilliant art, action-packed adventure, true-to-life characters, and a smart and twisting plotline. Published by “And… Action!” Entertainment, Legend of the Mantamaji tells the story of Elijah Alexander, New York’s hottest, cockiest, and most media-hungry Assistant District Attorney, is about to learn something shocking: he is not even human. He’s the last of the Mantamaji, a long-lost race of warriors who once protected humanity when the world was young. Now another Mantamaji—the worst of all their kind—has reawakened to visit doom on all of humanity. Can Elijah accept his past, reject his present life, and learn about his talents, in time to defeat the villain who killed all the other Mantamaji before him?
Legend of the Mantamaji is a three-book graphic novel series whose sweeping tale of magic and mystery, heroes and villains, has a fresh look, a modern setting—and an ancient beat.

 Legend of the Mantamaji uses a common trope in urban fantasy storytelling: There is an ancient and powerful race of supernatural beings living alongside humanity, whose footprint can be seen throughout history, mythology, and religion. And now, an evil Mantamaji cult threatens to destroy our world, unless the hero can find his inner bad-ass in time to stop them! Plus, he can hopefully resolve his issues with his hot lady-friend, too. Cue the dramatic music, right?

Legend of the Mantamaji is teevee director Eric Dean Seaton's (Sonny with a Chance, That's So Raven, Good Luck Charlie) first shot at writing comics, but this is clearly a professional storyteller with writing chops and a lifelong love of the medium, both of which are on full display here. I am not sure what I expected when I was invited to review Legends of the Mantamaji, but I can tell you I was definitely impressed by the quality world-building and storytelling. There are many opportunities for Legend of the Mantamaji to fall flat by leaning too hard on cliches, and to his credit, Seaton avoids those pitfalls nicely. 

The script to Legend of the Mantamaji moves along at an athletic pace, doing its job but never staying in one moment too long. We are introduced to new characters, confronted with tough situations, and brought up to speed on the secret history of the world in small, digestible chunks. Seaton impressed me with his ability to keep so many moving parts working without slowing down the action. He also made great use of chapter breaks, starting each chapter with an excerpt from the Book of Legends, the history of the Mantamaji handed down to Elijah by his mother as a simple book of fables.

Of course, Legend of the Mantamaji is a comic, not a novel, so all of that good writing would be wasted if the art sucked. But it doesn't, so there's that. Brandon Palas's work reminds me of Marvel Comics veteran Mark Bagley (New Warriors, Thunderbolts, Ultimate Spiderman), and his abilities as an illustrator and storyteller are definitely up to the job of visualizing this script. He seems equally comfortable with the real world and fantasy elements the story requires. I'm not sure if Palas designed the characters here, but he appears to enjoy drawing them. By the end of the second volume, instead of rushing to get things done, Palas seems to be getting better and better. 

The first volume introduces us to Elijah and the cast of characters. He learns the truth about his lineage and reluctantly chooses to develop his powers. We meet the villainous Mantamaji Sirach, and learn how high the stakes are for Elijah personally, as well as for the world as he knows it. In the second volume we hit the ground running as all the players, good and bad, are on the table... although we aren't always sure who to trust as Elijah digs deeper into his new powers, the world that spawned them, and the mess it has made of his life.  I was sent review copies of both volumes at once, and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.
Both volumes of Legend of the Mantamaji
are available on Amazon, and I recommend picking them up. If you're anything like me, once you read them you'll be dying to get your hands on the third one when it comes out!

Samax Amen draws people, places and things for fun and profit. He is the artist of many great comics you never heard of like Herman Heed, Champion of Children, The Brother and The World As You Know It. He even writes and draws his own comics, like Dare: The Adventures of Darius Davidson, Spontaneous, and Manchild when he gets around to it. Because making comics is hard and stuff, he started GhettoManga as a blog in 2006 and as a print magazine in 2008. 
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