Sarai #1 Review
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What happens when you mix Sarafina with The Crow? You get Sarai.
Sarai tells the story of a young Nigerian that is kidnapped by slavers that traffic young girls. After being brutalized and discarded Sarai is given a second chance and becomes an avatar of justice for Sakarabu, a spirit of retribution. The spirit gives Sarai opportunity to turn the tables on her enemies.
Sarai is a straightforward story of revenge. The setting of Nigeria makes this story stand out. You rarely see superhero concepts executed in Africa outside of Black Panther, Tarzan or the Phantom. This title was a nice change of pace, especially with a female protagonist. Sarai is a strong character caught in extreme circumstances beyond her control.
The biggest gripe I have with the Graphic Novel is the art. There are a lot of reuses of panels and one critical page that would explain the key antagonist's actions appears to be missing. I reread Sarai multiple times and I'm sure a page or panel is missing. What's really odd to me is that J.C. Grande is an excellent artist. In following his Deviantart and instagram feed there is a definite difference in the art there and the art produced here for this graphic novel. In my mind I see David Mack as the artist with more internal monologues from our hero.
The action is great and J.C. Grande does convey a sense of urgency, particularly when the plot picks up. I was never lost as too what was happening on the page. I wish that the issue was in color. This is a brutal book with a lot of bloodshed. Color, especially for the blood, would have made the brutality of the issue stand out even more.
The supernatural elements of the book are great. I'm a huge fan of "The Crow". I'm not sure if that series is an inspiration for this one but I felt story parallels as I was reading. Sarai becomes an avatar of retribution and justice and seeks to kill the ones that wronged her. These are perfect elements for a horror revenge story.
The downside is that I'm not a fan of the superhero motif that is used here. Upon her transformation, Sarai receives a weapon, cape and resembles a superhero. The design for the character looks out of place in contrast to the heavy themes conveyed in the story and it honestly rubbed me the wrong way.
My final gripe is that one of the villains, Samuel becomes obsessed with Sarai after an incident of defiance. This complaint ties back to my gripe with the art. Samuel constantly tells her to " know" or "learn" her place but I missed the part in the issue where she garnered his attention in the first place.
Gripes aside, this is a story that absolutely deserves to be told and is an excellent value proposition. The graphic novel can be found on comixology for 3.99 and is 66 pages. Big two publishers would charge you 7.99 + for the same content.
Sarai is also one of the most unique takes on the genre I've ever read. There is a solid foundation laid for more stories to be told within this setting. If Sonnie finds the right producer Sarai could absolutely be turned into a feature film or animated movie. The overall execution of the concept is better than the sum of its parts.
Shari is brutal and the situation is bleak. It forces you to consider all of the people that actually have to live in fear of being ripped from families and sold into slavery. There is no avatar of justice that will save them. It's frightening to consider. As an executed premise that resonates with the reader. I cannot praise Sarai and its creator's enough.
Rating B -