Writer/Creator: Jon Laight
Artist/Colours and Letters: Phillip Knibs
Variant Cover Artist: Hal Laren
Published by Level 8 Comics
“The start of a journey that will traverse across our world and others, following a mysterious hero with an unwavering oath of vengeance to fulfil…. Brethren Born introduces you to a story of violence, death and fantastic universal forces controlled by one man …
“Who is Newton? Is revenge beyond the horizon?”
The Story: Brethren Born opens with a bank robbery in progress in a city’s financial district. As a lone beat cop arrives on scene, the robber is thrown through the wall of the building and the cop is confronted by a hooded figure, who escapes the cops. The story then flashes back to 1963 and the fiery crash of an alien spaceship. On the floor of the crashed vehicle you see the arm of the alien with blood around it…
The tale then again jumps in time to Newton aka Number 8, a man alone in a cell, in 1994: he’s being held in a military experimental facility, watched over CCTV by a couple of generals. One of the generals calls a scientist into his office and demands the facility be shut down and the subjects ‘culled’.
The story then takes off from there, violently and with plenty of excitement….
The Preview: Brethren Born started out as a Kickstarter run by the writer, Jon Laight, and Issue One presents us with a great opening that intrigues the reader in just the right measure to make sure that they come back for more. The hero has the quality of a hooded vigilante, akin to a Scanner from David Cronenburg’s 1981 movie. Throw a healthy dose of James Hudnall’s Espers and the Heroes TV series into the mix and you can get a little closer to the feel of this story.
Jon skilfully adds the mystery of a crashed spacecraft and the government facility into the narrative, and between his script and Phillip Knibbs art, the result is an action comic delivered with great panache.
On the art front, Knibbs also makes use of some interesting point of view to deliver the book’s action scenes (the view out of the cockpit as the spaceship crashes was especially well done) and has some genuinely original ways of showing the protagonists’ psychic and telekinetic powers, which seem to surge through the bloodstream of Newton and then pour out in waves of impact when he activates them. Great design work.
I reached out to the writer Jon Laight and asked him about the series…
Jon: I suppose I have been influenced by a lot of films and other comics over the years and this has definitely leaked into Brethren Born on a conscious and unconscious level. Stereotypes and cliches have always fascinated me and it is something I really wanted to explore in the book in a few different ways from the way the comic actually looks to some of the characters in it. What may look like a typical comic book villain will eventually be totally different to what was first perceived. Or not. Or maybe it is?? Possibly it’s just b******s.
As for Scanners and Espers… I’m way too young for those! There may be a little influence there but this may change in later issues as the story and origins are revealed. Films like The Matrix and Close Encounters have been favourites but a huge influence on me has been Iain Banks and his sc-fi novels. When I found out he was dying, it was the first time I had been deeply affected by an author/artist being affected by a terminal disease. He was a genius and I will read his books over and over again.
Tony: What are the plans in the long run for the title?
Jon: It really depends on how we do with Issue One. We funded it through Kickstarter and had an amazing response with over a 200 per cent funding, so there could be a few pounds left over to help publish Issue Two and other instalments. I’ve finished writing Issue Two and I have the first story arc ending after five issues with a definite “to be continued” ending ready for volume two! (Obviously the Netflix and tie in movies will follow after that…)
What will be different though is that I will have to recruit a couple of more artists to the team to get Issue Two out in time. An inker and colour artist are vital as both Phil and I have families and work full time as well.
Tony: Where are you launching it? (any comic conventions etc)
Jon: The official launch I suppose will be at Nottingham Comic Convention on 24th October. This is the first con we will be at after printing and with a plethora of amazing artists I’m hoping we can make an impact and get a few people talking about the comic. Unfortunately Phil can’t make it but I’m the gobshite in the partnership so he he won’t mind me singing his praises in his absence. I’m also doing a signing at a local comic shop in Worcester (Hide N Geek) sometime in October, but the date isn’t confirmed as yet.
Tony: Brethren Born has great design. I love the visual representation of the powers and wondered if you fancied talking about that?
Jon: Thanks. After doing research into writing comics I made a decision early on to go down the “DC Method” and describe in detail every page and panel as it seemed the best way due to the fact I still hadn’t found my artist yet! As I wouldn’t know them, it would be a good test to see if they had the same vision and when Phil and I got talking, it was clear he got what I was trying to do.
I would say about 80 per cent of the comic is true to what I did in the script but Phil was able to add his own artistic flair to a lot of the pages. Newton’s (our intrepid and vengeful hero) abilities are diverse and we had several discussions on what they should look like. Phil has done a great job and I have to admit it was he who developed the look which has now evolved into an almost trademark look for Newton.
If you are looking for an intelligent action book with some mystery then I can’t recommend this too highly.
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.