A War Party is formed by colonial fighters to rescue an abducted child after receiving powers from a tribe of skin-walkers.
Skin-walkers were considered fallen angels, helpers of the divine beings left behind in the material world, processing supernatural powers in their mortal form. In ancient times they were considered medicine men who had been curses after giving themselves over to dark magic and corrupted purposes.
With the arrival of Europeans to the New World, the practice of transformation became rare, as fewer shamans passed on its secrets. Many focused their energies on more positive forces, such as using the spirit of animals to guide them. Animal totems were related to spiritual symbols of a tribe or individual, rather than a literal force that could transform them with supernatural power. War Party is a series of graphic novels delving into that mythology.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The creative team of War Party consists of Justin Murphy as the writer, pencilers, inker and letterer, and J. Brown as the Colorist. Piper Steed is the editor of the Handbook. Justin Murphy is a professor of animation and illustration working in comic book publishing since 1992. J. Brown is a 25-year veteran of the comics industry working for Marvel, Defiant, Moonstone, Big City, and IDW.
When I discovered this crowdfunding project back in September last year, after making the decision to participate in crowdfunding entertainment, I didn’t know the work of anyone from the team, but I am glad to have discovered that there are interesting stories out there created by such talented artists.
War Party is a fantasy-adventure tale with a lot of action set in the brutal historical period of Colonial America. The story is for the grounded young adult mature-minded that accepts history and the crude realities associated with it. It is not a fairy tale based on the ideologies of the modern world.
Readers will follow a group of colonial fighters that will organize a rescue of a surviving child that was captured during the colonial war between the French, The British, and the Natives. When they receive shape-shifting powers from an ancient tribe, Wolf, Bear, Eagle, Jaguar, and Gator all team up in an unlikely alliance against the French, the British, and their native allies.
The books received were issue #1 to issue #3 plus the handbook but the complete series that is set in the New World Era has 6 issues. There is also a limited-edition issue #0 based on the New World era set in 1513. The books are printed in the traditional comic book floppy format on good-quality paper. Each issue is 22-32 pages of the story published by Rampart Press.
Hereby follows a short summary of the stories of the first three issues of the War Party series and a short description of the handbook.
War Party Issue #1: Total War
The first issue starts in 1756, deep in the Ohio wilderness where the Ashworth family find themselves caught between the French, British and Native conflict for the possession of the Americas. Their settlement is under attack and only young Sarah escapes with the help of her mother, who is ultimately killed by the Shawnee warrior called Row tag. The Shawnee is one of the tribes living on the land.
While called away to post for duty at a nearby British fort, Sarah’s father James has a recurring vision that compels him to return home. He does return only to find everything destroyed. Realizing Sarah is still alive, James vows to rescue her and avenge the death of his wife.
War Party Issue #2: Captured
After pursuing Sarah’s abductors, James is defeated in a violent contest with Rowtag and left for dead. Sarah is once again taken further north to be sold to the French. Dyani reaches James, as he is near death, and brings him to her encampment.
James is transformed into his beast totem after Dyani convinces her father to allow the ritual as a reward for saving her life when he was a boy. James goes to rescue his brothers in his beast form, making away for their escape, but not before he is captured by the British.
War Party Issue #3: The Beast Within
The third issue starts with a young James and his father pursuing what appears to be a humanoid Deer. Fortunately, she was able to escape thanks to James, but she was shot. James was concerned and went to look for her. She finds her and sees her transforming back into a human form. As a thank you for saving her life she awakens his totem, a Wolf.
Back in the present James is severely beaten by the British, he is almost dead. Dyani comes to help him and gives him the strength to set himself free and continue his journey to save Sarah. Only this time he won’t be alone in his fight. Along with his brothers and allies, he forms a War Party.
War Party: The Handbook
The 32-page handbook features character bios, maps, and artwork from the series plus Dyani’s secrets of the transformation ritual. Dyani’s character was the one I was most interested to know more about. As a female character, I was hoping for her to have a solid background which she appears to have based on her description and her story in Issue #0. Well-written female characters are just difficult to find these days so I’m looking forward to Issue #0 to learn more about her.
The handbook includes sufficient information to understand the world of the War Party. It also gives you an insight into the vision of the creators regarding how far they want to go with the storytelling. Based on the timeline you realize that the story will probably not end with this limited series but that it will continue during the expansionism and the modern era in future series which is quite ambitious.
EXPERIENCE WITH THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
The crowdfunding campaign is to produce all 6 issues autographed with a total of 160 pages. I thought I would initially get all the issues. Later, I noticed the delivery schedule on the campaign and noted that the remaining three issues of the series will be fulfilled this year.
I also noticed issue zero was available which I later got an offering for. The project looked ambitious which was fascinating to me. In addition to the six issues, I also selected the perks for the custom slipcase, the handbook, and the motion comic. The project is structured and presented professionally.
I received the first 3 issues very quickly in good condition. In addition to those, I also received the Dyani trading card and two War Party ad sheets, one of which is a reminder of the remaining issues that are pending to be received.
Thankfully I had no issues at customs because Justin was the direct sender, and I was able to recognize his name. However, I would have preferred to receive a tracking number of the package beforehand. I hope this is taken into consideration for the next fulfillment period which is supposed to be June of this year.
Overall, the management of the campaign itself has been very professional with providing periodical updates and the follow-up on customers’ feedback and I don’t expect any issues with receiving the remaining packages.
The first glance into the world of War Party was quite interesting. It looks to me like it’s well-structured and has a solid base for its storytelling, and the creators have a timeline in mind of how far they could go with the series. The art is beautiful.
The campaign was well managed. There was very little information that was not included in the first three issues like which animals each member of the War Party will transform into but that is not a major crime. It will be the start of issue #4 probably. Some creators tend to get ahead of themselves and tell too much about the first campaign. It’s not the case with War Party.
The exploration of skin-walkers mythology in this format is intriguing. It’s not your traditional superhero story which I find quite refreshing. When looking into alternative entertainment I like to look into the non-traditional genres and War Party would fall into that category.
It also looks, based on the character descriptions and their distinctive personalities, that the story will be centered around the members of the war party and their allies. Dyani and James are interesting leads but the story seems to go beyond them. Everyone seems to have a significant role to play which is why I got the impression of an ensemble cast-centered story rather than the traditional female/male lead.
As of date, the crowdfunding campaign for War Party is still active on Indiegogo with the first 3 issues and the handbook immediately ready for shipping. Looking forward to receiving Issue #0 and Issue #4 in June and Issue#5 and #6 in December.