Banjax Season 1

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

Banjax: "He who goes bump in the night!" 

A formerly celebrated vigilante superhero out to redeem himself. Equal parts hero and villain.  While Banjax was falling to the depths of despair his former protege Gyro was rising to the heights of capitalism... Banjax has become a joke. Gyro has gone soft. A clash is inevitable.

This is basically the graphic novel version of an action film (probably starring a B-movie martial arts guy and a faded Hollywood star). The story moves fairly quick, is easy to follow, and is more entertaining than not. The art serves the story. Not fancy, not bad. There's some social commentary that hits and misses. 

It's okay. I don't think I would have any interest in following the continuing story but I'm not disappointed that I read it.

***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Banjax is a washed up, disgraced superhero who only has a few months to live.  So he goes all Punisher and starts offing criminals leaving his former sidekick to try and stop him.  It's not bad, although the book can be wordy and the art and coloring aren't great.  The story ends unfinished.  I would have liked to see more of a resolution in case this doesn't come back.
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Banjax is sort of a washed up, dying superhero named Laird Mason who seems to get his second wind, going on the kind of crimefighting rampage that makes him feel young again. He realized he had super strength as a teen when he used its against his abusive dad. After that, he became a superhero. He used to tag team with a guy named Raines who later captured the public’s fancy by being a less ruthless crimefighter. Now Raines has his own company, the country apparently having outsourced security to second-rate superheroes. When Banjax makes a vigilante comeback, Raines is tasked with bringing him in. That doesn’t go so well, despite the serum that keeps Raines’ team members juiced — a serum that just might be the cure that Banjax needs.

The vigilante-justice story is familiar but it’s told with a couple of fresh twists. I liked the fact that Banjax teams with a reformed serial rapist to help him with his rampage. As sidekicks go, sexual deviants are more interesting than the disguised deviancy of a teen in a Robin suit. Mason also has a daughter named Fiona whose life he will likely ruin at some point, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Raines, on the other hand, has a hot but manipulative and controlling girlfriend, the kind who make guys think the hotness will somehow offset the evil. Never happens. When Raines finally goes back in action with some new juice, he carries a golf club, apparently channeling Tiger Woods, who as superheroes go is a pretty good inspiration.

Even more interesting is the story’s structure. Issues one and three in this volume tell us the story from Banjax’s perspective. Issues two and four switch to Raines’ perspective, which is intriguingly different. A good many of those scenes take place in corporate boardrooms, an appropriate commentary on outsourcing (who needs cops to protect a city when you can hire an ex-sidekick?). Meanwhile, Raines needs to man up if he want to take out Banjax, but he might not have the stones to do it. Sucks to be a sidekick.

The explosive art and the vivid coloring help make the volume a success. The story is a bit above average but the art is top notch.
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Didn't think I would like this one but it's actually pretty un-pudownable. It's brutal, violent, bloody and messed up but it's also a well told story about the rise and fall and rise and fall of two men. One is born with super strength and ultra-fast healing abilities and one is just a poor kid struggling to survive. They become practically family until one of the two goes totally off the rails and the other is forced to hunt his former friend down. The table though, turn over and over, and you never know quite who to root for, or if either of these men are either heroes OR villains at all, or just really flawed, messed up human beings trying to survive in a messed up world the only way they can.
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This was not a bad graphic novel. It started a little slow at first, but got better as the story moved along. We get to see the glory days of this hero, and when he took in a new protege. There was also a fall from grace for them, and a diagnosis that fast forwarded their plans for this city. It is hard to say if this will be a graphic novel for everyone, but I think some people will enjoy it.
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Now I gotta say I have had the opportunity to look at superhero fiction from different perspectives before but this one presents a couple sides that people are not familiar with. The first chapter is certainly rushed with a 30 page origin story running 40 years. It gets a little hard to relate with the title character for a bit. At the same time, that's kind of the point. Mason has had a life full of abuse and neglect without proper guidance. Pretty soon the celebrity and lack of guidance lead to a lot of pitfalls. The cancer and that limited time is what drives him to action. But with everyone he ends pushing away and his isolation, Mason is not ready for what lies in store.

His former sidekick Raines isn't much better off in terms of being a hero. Sure he built himself back up as the owner of his own company through his celebrity. But now he's little more than a product of his board. With his integrity all but gone, Raines alter-ego and his company's product are now what literally drives him. He desperately wants to be the hero he wants to be again much like Mason. But unlike his former mentor; Raines has everything to lose. His private security team even ends up being his own downfall. He's not even taking drugs but Raines is already letting his celebrity drive him. He doesn't even have any real support or friends, just people who believe more in his image.

The overall theme in this is whether someone can build themselves back up after losing themselves. Mason sticks to his beliefs that anyone must be dealt with permanently. His crusade even has him go after crooks who have served time and reformed. As for Raines, he wants to fulfill the people's wishes by getting back into the action. Unfortunately, he doesn't want to take risks and has to rely on outside forces to drive him. Then there is Ogod, the man who drove these former partners apart. A serial rapist after his beatdown from Mason as Banjax and his arrest by Gryo; he gets chemically castrated. Now wanting to make up for his past mistakes, he ends up helping and working with Mason to take on a group.

There is an air of addiction with Banjax; their superhero lives is what drives them but ultimately, they forget to live as real people. In fact, they both end up getting addicted to a drug that enhance their performances. Both Raines and Mason are so cut off from the world; they need people who barely know them to affirm their beliefs. The only people they actually seem to understand are each other. Raines knows that Mason is just a flawed human being but barely did anything to help him despite owing so much to him. Mason himself views the city as being ungrateful and distances himself from everyone he's ever cared about including his daughter.

The artwork is dark but that's okay for a series like this. The characters are very much in a dark place and can barely do anything. The sparse use of adapted CGI for Raines' hallucinations makes their suggestions to him feel otherworldly.

What mainly holds this back is the lack of how much of the world is explored. There are other powered people in this world but they are sparsely used. It was rather interesting to see how that electricity user uses their powers to  make addicts out of people. I'm definitely interested to see where this series goes.
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This is a title to take note of.  Yes, it's wordy, and no, the artist can't decide on one protagonist's girlfriend's face from one frame to another, but it is a strong, strong kicking for the superhero genre.  This LA has been host to at least two muscle-bound vigilantes – they don't have much other than a wicked punch and healing power, but they've done enough to clean the streets in their time.  One has even begat the other, as his kind of mentor.  But neither are exactly on the moral straight and narrow – the older needs more of a chemical impetus than he should, while the younger has become a media whore to build up his own corporate self-image.  So in amongst the yacking, and the punching, you really do get a good look at two rarefied people of ill repute, and what happens when they match that with too much physical power.  The older character says he inches up to a line but never crosses it, and I think this inches up to the line of forcing its moral down our throats, and thankfully doesn't go too far into preaching.  Some might possibly quibble the verbiage is too much and makes the differing positions of the men too blatant, but I didn't mind its broad strokes.  This was fun.
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Flawed superheros, lots of fighting but lots of colour. The story line is good with lots of twists and turns. I didnt rate it higher because I didnt really like it but that is my personal choice. I think there is a good action story here with good art.
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Again Action lab provide a copy full of copyright tags which made it impossible, or at least very painful to read, maybe if I protest enough time against that they will change their way... Just don't gt how they intent us to read a comic this way...
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