One of the great things about the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform is that it has opened the door to new voices in the world of comics. According to Kickstarter’s Comics Outreach Lead, Camilla Zhang: “The Kickstarter Comics category had a massive year in 2018, with backers from around the world pledging a record $16 million to projects large and small.” Additionally, Zhang shared the following stats:
- $16 million pledged to all projects, up 26% from 2017.
- $15.3 million pledged to successfully funded projects, up 27% from 2017.
- 1,457 projects funded, up 14% from 2017, the previous best year, and nearly triple the amount in 2012.
- 70% funding success rate
Leaders of the Free World is one of the latest comic books to add their voice through the Kickstarter platform. The creative team of Corey Pruitt and Elijah Isaiah Johnson has made a strong debut.
In Leaders of the Free World, the world changes in 1974 when a group of super beings called the Godsend arrive on Earth. Each of them takes up residence in a different country and, with the help of the various governments, they assist in mankind’s evolution, enabling them to protect themselves. These newly evolved humans are called Archetypes, but not everyone is blessed with powers.
This whole setup sets the stage for interesting discussions of forced evolution and what that really means for mankind. Are the Godsend truly there to help mankind or are they the overseers? These are the kinds of questions that this debut comic generates.
The creators do a nice of job of introducing the various characters, which isn’t easy to do in its brisk 16 pages. Each character in the diverse group has their own distinct personality and is allowed to shine.
Cong Li AKA Surreal is the current Monkey King. He is young and brash. Cong Li happens to attend a high school with other Archetypes, but he is not one himself. He inherited his powers, which includes thousands of years of his ancestors’ training, and is the first in his line not born in China. The scene where he is in high school and has to recite the history of the Godsend is quite funny. He is very relatable, as everyone has had or been a smart aleck in class at one time or another.
Illyas Godfrey AKA Brother Nature is an Elemental, as is his mother Gaia AKA Mother Earth. Brother Nature makes his living doing battle with other Archetypes in a kind of UFC-style show. Even though he is a big celebrity and a world champion, he hates his current position and wants to do more. He is everyone who hates their job and sees themselves as having so much more to offer.
Tech-No, Tech-Neek, and Doohickey
Tech-No, Tech-Neek, and their dog Doohickey are a team of technology geeks. I love this team. They’re determined to show that mankind, through their own ingenuity, can take care of themselves without the Godsend.
Moonshine is a space-dwelling, hard-drinking powerhouse who reminds me of Captain Marvel. She is determined to protect the earth from space-faring enemies.
I am impressed with the world building. The creators have created a unique space with its own set of rules. The writing is well-done and hits the right notes with humor. I am a stickler for characters that have distinct voices, which the creators accomplish.
The artwork is excellent and does a good job at making the script come alive. Once again, the page count is tight, so it takes talent and a good rapport between the writer and artist to make the issue work. It would be easy to have panels that are too busy because they’re trying to fit in too much, but that is not the case with this book. This is an outstanding debut and I hope to see more.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Martin Reese is a writer and creator of innovative, dynamic sci-fi and fantasy projects for transmedia platforms. He is the author of the blog Martin’s Theory of Relativity where he discusses topics relevant to People of Color in sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comics. He is also the author of the story book Mulogo and His Quintuple of Trouble.