Sundiata’s Review of Number 13

Book Review by Sundiata Acoli

Number 13

A comic book by Robert Love and David Walker

Dark Horse Books, 10956 SE Main St., Milwaukee OR 97222

Darkhorse.com

First Edition: August 2013

58 pages of full color

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i don’t know much about comic books tho naturally i read them as a kid in the ’40s/’50s. Back then there were no or few people of color in comics, and certainly no Black people.

Superman, the first comic, came along in ‘36.  He was a White Superhero, and as i remember, one man with super powers fighting enemies in the Metropolis – and worldwide. His enemies just happened to be America’s enemies too: petty criminals at home and foreign terrorist from abroad. His friends were the Metropolis police commissioner, the mayor; reporter: Lois Lane, and everyday working stiffs: construction workers, shop keepers, etc., encountered in passing.

The monthly comic was colorful, 10 cents a copy, 10 pages or so and entertained a circulation life of about 6 months. It was also a boon to those with poor reading skills. They could almost teach themselves to read or greatly enhance their reading ability thru careful study of the pictures, actions and word balloons of the characters.

Superman and similar comics of the era taught basic purported American values: fair play, don’t lie, cheat, steal or kill; work hard and one can make it in America – and any boy can grow up to be President.

Number 13 is obviously a new and different comic. It’s about all people: those of color, non-color and hybrids too. 13 is a Science Fiction comic that begins after the world ended. The earth has been devastated and is now populated by humans, mutants, ogres, cybernetics: part human-part machine and similar survivors of the plague. The planet is divided into those who are immune or those who are infected, now at war with each other and forming alliances with others of like mind or predicament.

The protagonist is a lone cybernetic boy with hidden superpowers, a broken memory system and the number “13” stamped into his head. He stalks a desolate and hostile landscape searching for his daddy.

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This is a short trailer for a film version of Number 13 available here.

The artwork for the graphic novel is astounding, the action scenes fierce, some festive while others are outright bloodcurdling and cruel. The passive scenes are more subdued but just as arresting. The color scheme is primarily soft luxurious earth tones contrasted with splashes of brilliant pastels. The results allow one to simply brose thru and enjoy the pictures, the colors and actions without reading the words, if one chooses, but still “get” the story… which is as old as the universe: good vs. evil, tolerance vs. intolerance, freedom vs. tyranny and a principled peace vs. unjust wars; all done in a way that holds the fascination of those from 8 to 80 (plus, spoiler alert, the good guys win!)

Number 13 is 58 pages of action, color, fun and suspense. The cover and each page is highly polished, glossy finished, thick, durable and made to last for decades; more like a collector’s item than transitory reading. It makes for an excellent treat to oneself or gift to a family member or friend.

Price is 15.99 USA, $17.99 CAN.

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