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 cursed 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. In War Party Part 1 we discussed Issues #1-#3 and the handbook. In this publication, we’ll discuss Issue #0 and issue #4.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The creative team of War Party consists of Justin Murphy as the writer and letterer and J. Brown as the Colorist. Cover art by Justin and Preston Acevedo. Pencil and Ink work was done by Justin, and Marcio Abreu.
Justin Murphy is a professor of animation and illustration working in comic book publishing since 1992. J. Brown is a veteran of the comics industry working for Marvel, Defiant, Moonstone, Big City, and IDW.
The books are printed in the traditional comic book floppy format on good-quality paper. Each issue is 32 pages of the story published by Rampart Press. Issue #0’s interior art is printed in black and white. Issue #4 interior art is printed in color.
Issue #0 has 3 cover versions: the retail variant (the offering), the limited edition variant featuring Dyani, and the Sheena: Queen of the Jungle variant featuring Sheena and Dyani.
Hereby follows a summary of the stories of Issues number zero and number four of the War Party series. Issue zero has the main story “The Fountain of Bood” and a short story “The Offering”. It chronicles Dyani’s history in Florida, the Spanish quest for the Fountain of Youth, and the origin of her shape-shifting.
#0 FOUNTAIN OF BLOOD
The story starts in 1513 on the North Florida Coast as the Spaniards arrive looking for the fountain of eternal life and they won’t rest until they find it. The captain has a sick boy for whom he is looking at the fountain of eternal life in order for him to recover. We then see Dyani with Tohopka and learned that she has to preserve her purity in order to retain her powers.
He proceeds to give her his powers and she faints. Two natives, a man, and a woman arrive wanting to take Dyani away. Tohopka prevents them from taking her as he needs her help with the Spaniards that are in search of eternal youth. We then see the Spaniards cruelly torturing a native while using the words of god. Dyani and Tohopka chase them away and it is funny how they talk about each other:
The Spaniards say “Dios nos salve de estos paganos” (“God save us from these pagans”) and Dyani says “Run you Beasts!”. Both see the other as the lesser. The captain learns how his subordinates used brutality to search the fountain. It is clear that the captain has good intentions but his subordinates don’t really care about what they do to the natives. Seeing how the search for the fountain was a failure and the boy is on the verge of dying the captain decides to take him by himself to Dyani.
Dyani gives the boy her blood and tells the captain that she is the fountain. The soldiers face a giant wolf that kills everybody. Tohopka reprimands Dyani for giving her blood to the boy since her blood has magic. The two individuals appear again ready to take Dyani. Tohopka tries to stop them. He knows that the secret of her blood slinked to her innocence and how important it is.
It is similar to the virgin mother and her son that the Spaniards speak about and how they draw strength from that same purity that saves them from damnation. The two individuals have powers and are not happy with the turn of events. They eventually kill Tohopka and try to attack Dyani. The captain thinks he saves her with the cross but she saves herself using her powers.
#0 THE OFFERING
The offering tells a disturbing story about the two individuals, Zaltana, and Hakan who don’t hesitate to offer their newborn as a sacrifice to a demon. We learn that they have done it with all their children. This is the seventh sacrifice. All for the sake of power that they gain in the end.
Continuing from Issue #3 here is the story so far…
While a prisoner of Lt. Colonel Cooke and the British garrison at Fort Rolfe, James is flogged for desertion and sentenced to death. As a trusted native scout of the Colonel, Tario buys some time, allowing Dyani to approach James with the wolf pelt. Thinking it is only the actions of a superstitious, both British commanders permit her to perform the transformation ritual.
John, Joseph, Thomas, and Bastien look in horror as James turns from a man to a beast, growing in size, and attacking the fort’s garrison. All attempts to restrain him with the fire chains, muskets and artillery fail, and the fort is engulfed in a blazing inferno. Cooke and Rolfe flee, and the next morning James declares himself the leader of the War Party.
Issue #4 starts in 1736 with the battle of the Wild Ones, a fight between the War party and Rowtag’s clan. We learn how Rowtag’s clan is attacking others clans to expand their territory and power and how they enslave the woman of the clans they attack.
We then see James & company discussing the possibility of them becoming like him. John is the only one who refuses to participate based on his faith. Despite all the discussions his decision is respected. The ritual is performed and the men are transformed into beasts. As the story continues we see a group of British soldiers going through the forest. Fannie is with them. She is married to Lt. Colonel Cooke. Thomas was her lover. The War Party attacks the soldiers. She manages to run away on her horse.
Meanwhile, Sarah, James’s daughter, is being transported to the French Fort. The War Party attacks the fort but James unexpectedly loses his powers. In the meantime at the quarters of the Marquis de Leroux at Fort Duquesne, Sarah arrived and the marquis is inspecting her. He instructs them to have her cleaned up and elegantly dressed.
We then see that James is with Dyani trying to figure out how to get his powers back. Dyani knows a ritual that can help him. They perform the ritual but there are some French soldiers roaming around their vicinity. What will happen next?
The depiction of the torture scene in Issue #0 was very detailed and necessary. People think these things did not happen back then but god knows how much more cruelty was exercised by the colonizers. It is annoying how they wrongly use the word of God to justify their actions.
The offering story in Issue #0 reminds me of all the crazy stuff that was posted on social media regarding the Roe vs Wade issue in the U.S. It was horrifying to see how for some people the life of a child has no value and can easily be taken away. And there is also this weird speculation about how fractions of Hollywood are entangled in similar rituals but that’s a discussion for another day. Unfortunately, child sacrifice is a practice often believed to bring health and wealth, and that is still going on in some parts of the world.
In issue #4 what bothered me was how creepy the marquis was with Annie and how common that would have been during that time seeing how she is his prisoner/slave. Right at the beginning of the story we also see how cruel the natives can be with their own in order to obtain power. Evil doesn’t have a color. It can be anyone, anywhere.
EXPERIENCE WITH THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
Through The crowdfunding campaign, the creators will 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 later.
I received issue number 1-3 first. My notes on them can be found in Eyes on War Party Part 1. Receiving issues 0 and 4 went smoothly same as with the first 3 issues with just one small hiccup, I didn’t receive Sheena’s variant cover that I initially ordered but this was immediately handled, and I received the Sheena variant with no issues. They were so nice to send me the retail variant as well. Their customer service is great.
Overall, the management of the campaign itself has been very professional with providing periodical updates and follow-up on customers’ feedback and I don’t expect any issues with receiving the remaining packages which include the remaining issues, the slipcase, Dyani’s Diary, and the motion comic.
War Party is interesting and well-structured with a solid base for its storytelling, and the creators have a timeline in mind for how far they could go with the series. The art is beautiful. The campaign is well-managed. As expected issue #0 gives insight into Dyani’s life before meeting the War Party and issue #4 deals with the animals each member of the War Party will transform into.
Both issues deal with topics that are unspoken but related to the U.S. celebrity environment of Hollywood: the constant search for youth and power, demonic rituals and sacrifices, and pedophilia.
As of date, the crowdfunding campaign for War Party is still active on Indiegogo. Issue #0 through Issue #4, and the handbook are immediately ready for shipping. Looking forward to receiving Issue #5 and Dyani’s Diary next year.