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The Festering Season: Homebrew    by Kevin Tinsley order for
Festering Season
by Kevin Tinsley
Order:  USA  Can
Stickman Graphics, 2005 (2002)

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* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

This tale of religion, magic, racism, and rage was inspired by strange but true events. In the opening pages, New York City police gun down August Duboise, a store-owner and leader in the African American community. The officers who shot her claim that what they saw was a junkie who pulled a gun on them. However, Duboise is only armed with a set of keys. But this is just one area of tension in the city. Arguments are closing on another police shooting case - what should be a foregone conclusion is somehow still a close case that wears heavily on the hearts of the African American community.

August's daughter, Rene, must return to New York from Haiti and interrupt her voodoo training though she has reached the final test. What she finds in the city will test her better than anything her instructor could provide. As she re-acclimates herself to her neighborhood, she re-establishes contacts and investigates what happened to her mother. Dark magic overflows in New York City, and Rene believes it is coming from Gangleos, a Paleros sorcerer whose rising power seems to coincide with large numbers of zombie-like bodies trudging along in the street.

In the aftermath of August's death, Reverend Shefield organizes a rally of the African American community to take back the neighborhoods. Scheduled on the same day as the release of the verdict on the police shooting, the police force and presence nearly triples to be ready to deal with the reaction. Meanwhile, Rene makes friends who want to topple Gangleos and prevent him from taking over the city. Isabelle joins shortly after her brother is killed and Paul, an anthropologist specializing in Voodoo and Santeria, manages to get involved too. In a battle of will and wit, Rene faces the powerful Gangleos head on, to decide the fate of New York City.

It's graphic novels like these that prove how deep and sophisticated the genre can be. Religion, racism, and police brutality are but a few of the topics that this one dares to address in realistic terms. By story's end, there is no solution or easy way to resolve the problems. This graphic novel recognizes that and does not seek to belittle the struggle, but rather shows just how integrated such social problems can be. Except for the noses, the art displayed the story quite well. For some reason, many of the noses looked awkward or just prove distracting while the rest of the drawings work effectively. The style used for displaying magic use was interesting and unique, and the artists nailed perfect composites of the quasi-zombies.

Homebrew: The Festering Season stirs up a great story with delicious depth. One falls into step with the account almost immediately. Brimming with flavorful characters and with room for more development, this graphic novel far exceeds expectations.

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