LESSON 8: JEMBER

I know that look.

I’ve made that face.

And, personally, I don’t think there’s anything scarier than having to look at yourself and wonder what did you do wrong?

Why are you not GOOD ENOUGH?

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Hey and Welcome to the next Lesson in BLACK BUSINESS MONTH!

LESSON 8: JEMBER

As mentioned in the last lesson, Jember was the first superhero I discovered (more specifically, purchased) under Etan Comics. As this was another indie comic character, I didn’t know what to expect.

Just looking at the art was an encouraging note, but nothing too solid to go off of. Luckily, the writing served its purpose just as well.

The story starts in the Land of Punt, 5022 B.C. and you’re greeted to THIS!

PAG E 1

Now, I know nothing of these times or the mythology surrounding it, but just by the few pages provided, I was surrounded by familiar vibes. The art, again, is nothing short of stunning, almost reminiscent of Jorge Jiminez’s art on Justice League or Earth-2.

JEMBER
EARTH 2: WORLD’S END

 and placement of unnamed heroes that brings back memories of X-Men titles.

JEMBER
X-MEN FIRST CLASS

And, in one final moment, you’re left suspended as you read the final panel of that time and are gifted with this image.

Again, possibly just a me-thing but, I feel good and, more specifically, nostalgic.

Just gonna leave this here…

Just sayin’…

This is where it gets real.

In present day, we’re introduced into our protagonist, Amanuel, and this is…going to need some explanation.

The tragic backstory is pretty much a staple for modern superheroes: Spider-Man lost Uncle Ben, Superman lost his planet and parent(s), Bruce Wayne in Crime Alley, Invincible and Omni-Man, Hawi and her father, X-Men and literally EVERYONE – it’s nothing new.

And neither is this, but at the same time it is.

Let me explain.

DEATH OF THE FLYING GRAYSONS

Rather than seeing such a tragic blowout that would ultimately motivate one to rise to the ranks of being a superhero, we see Amanuel doing one of the scariest things that I can think of for a Black man: job hunting.

Now I won’t lean too much on racial issues in this regard, just my personal ones told in an objective way.

When you’re in school, you’re told, basically, if you work hard, get good grades and go to college, you’ll get a good job. It sounds surefire, but in life, we’re often met with situations that should’ve ended well and they just…didn’t.

You do everything you can, you work as hard as you can and through all of your best efforts you just weren’t good enough

I get it.

AMANUEL

I know that look.

I’ve made that face.

And, personally, I don’t think there’s anything scarier than having to look at yourself and wonder what did you do wrong?

Why are you not GOOD ENOUGH?

Again, seamlessly, Debebe proves he knows story pacing. We start with a massive event to a quaint, small moment for establishment and brings us up to a moment where Amanuel and his friends are just enjoying a game of soccer.

Now, this isn’t anything special as it’s just a game, but the timing it took place in this issue and, again, the art (I swear I’m not getting paid for this #probono) – it’s usage of specific techniques – makes Amanuel’s situation seem less dire.

SOCCER

This panel specifically stands out as you can see that by the blurs, the ball and its trail – this friendly game is more than a little intense. And no dialogue is said throughout the entire game allowing the players, and readers, to just enjoy the moment.

It’s usually moments like these that are later switched to another dangerous, action one, but…not really in this one.

Amanuel finds himself in a pit and just moments later, a la Josh Trank’s “Chronicle”, our protagonist finds himself with new powers and, like us, the reader, in for a whole new ride.

Based solely on the fact that this is simply its debut issue, Jember gives you something new as a grounded, related story in a far-off land. With traces of Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales), X-Men, DC and possibly even under-appreciated B-list movies, Jember is an amalgamation of great stories that came before it while keeping its identity true and genuine.

If YOU would like to support and read more of their work, you can go to their site at:
http://etancomics.com or their twitter/instagram @etancomics .

Well, that’s all for no—MAAAAN, IF YOU THOUGHT FOR ONE SECOND I WAS GONNA FINISH THIS LESSON WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT THE WAY MANS SUITS UP, BOIIIII!

NOPE!

SUPAHERO STAAATIC SHAZAM!

THIS MAN – LISTEN!

EVERY STOKE OF THE PEN IS PRECISELY PLACED! The colors, the design, THE SUIT – it’s like paying homage to Tony Stark of the MCU films but keeping it humble like a callback to the Static Shock cartoon!

It’s bright!

It’s ELECTRIFYING!

THIS SH** IS DOPE!

STATIC SHOCK – JEMBER SUITING UP

The way its circuits goes over his body like a symbiote to its host, being laid out like veins of the body – THE DUST KICKED AROUND HIM LIKE IT ITSELF WAS MAKING AWAY FOR THIS GREATNESS!!?

AND WHAT DOES THIS MAN SAY ONCE HE SEES HIMSELF!!?

“WOW”

JUST LIKE WHO!!?

MILES “ACADEMY AWARD WINNER” MORALES!

LISTEN, I gotta go cuz if I keep this up, I’ma – BOI!

Look, that’s all for now (for real this time). So, until I get a cameo in the next issue of Jember or Chronicle gets a sequel, I’ll see you for the next lesson.

Until then, class dismissed!

Author: R.J. LEE

Over the past decade, it seems pop culture hasn’t become just “pop” anymore. Comic book movies are multi-billion dollar corporations, comics aren’t only for weekly Archie specials and video games have become an electronic sport competing with the likes of the Super Bowl! What happened? Where did the time go? It can all be a lot to take in and overwhelming at times, but what if I told you it doesn’t have to be? Like everything in life, nothing is hard to learn, you just need the right teacher and that’s where I come in. I’ll be your Lingo Liaison, your Coach for Comics, your Tutor for Trends, your Video Game Guru, your sensei from Sin City — My name is R.J. and I’m here to answer your FAQ’s of Life.

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