• Baraka

Excellence #3 Review - "Am I My Brother's Keeper"

Brandon Thomas (Writer) • Khary Randolph (Pencils)

Emilio Lopez (Colorist) • Image (Publisher)

• Khary Randolph Emilio Lopez (Cover Artists)

The problem with having so many gaps between reviews is that you forget bits of the previous issue which provide context for the content you're about to consume. I'll have to go back and read Excellence #2 but even without the context Brandon and Khary drop another excellent installment.

Spencer Dale has become a tool of Aegis after the fallout of the last issue. As punishment, he's sent on missions to investigate the unauthorized use of magic and magic users that have gone rogue. We see him take down a couple of low-level magicians. Spencer is also working on his own agenda behind the scenes.

Things get complicated when Spencer's father gives him a mission to take down Aaron. Aaron has fallen in love with the woman he was assigned to steer along the path assigned by Aegis.

This is another great issue with many solid moments including a great interaction between Spencer and his Grandmother Gi-Gi. She's lost her faculties but Spencer uses a low-level spell that grants him a few precious moments with her without the impairments. These are powerful scenes that I feel will resonate with anyone that has parents with Alzheimer's or dementia. I lost both parents and the idea of having them back for any length of time would mean the world to me. I totally get Spencer's motivation here.

When Spencer finally encounters Aaron we're given another cliffhanger. It's clear that the men don't really want to fight but are being pitted against each other by the system they operate under. This is a case of free-range slavery. The only difference between the comic and the real world is that the characters in Excellence know who their masters are.

Khary and Emilio provide amazing art direction. It's a Godsend to have an artist that can draw Black People and not have them look weak or ineffectual. The action sequences are great and the scenes between punch-ups are just as good. I love the energy given to every scene here. Too many comics have artists that only excel in body language or action. Khary is the total package and no matter what's happening on the page it's always interesting and engaging.

The background worldbuilding is complex and the comparison to Hickman's X-Men is undeniable. The infographics give a lot of passive information that comes into play The main difference is that whereas Marvel and Hickman are juggling 19 titles, Brandon can focus on this one and the narrative is stronger for it. Excellence is a great example of not diluting your storytelling.

Rating 10/10

#Excellence #BrandonThomas #KharyRandolph #EmilioLopez #IndieComics #ImageComics

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