From Shobo and Shof Coker (Outcasts Of Jupiter) comes a smart and unique take on a familiar sci-fi concept with New Masters #1. This story of colonization in a distant future offers a perspective we don’t often see in out Western-dominated world of comics fiction. With a sharp, intriguing script and stunning visual work, this could prove to be the start of a new mega-hit over at Image Comics.
“In a striking vision of West Africa under the thumb of alien colonizers, a motley crew of outcasts find themselves caught up in a power struggle for control of an ancient artifact with immense power.”
Writing & Plot
Developing a brand new science fiction world is a daunting task from a scripting perspective. In order to keep the story engaging, the perfect blend of worldbuilding and characterization needs to take place. It’s fortunate then that Shobo Coker pens a script that effectively accomplishes both with New Masters #1. This far-future vison of an Earth colonized by advanced alien races from the perspective of West Africa is a fascinating hotbed for storytelling from a perspective we seldom get to see. Our main cast, including Ola, a scavenger, and Tosin Ojumah, the human governor of this new territory shared with other alien societies, are each survivors navigating a new brand of colonialism from different ends of the societal spectrum. Being West African himself, Shobo has a perspective on this kind of resource-based hostile control that we here in the “West” definitely do not. The class and labor elements in this story bring in some cyberpunk genre tropes to help craft something familiar, but still unique unto itself.
Shobo’s writing style carefully combines distinctive dialogue and necessary exposition to create something informative and compelling. Character speech is filled with personal colloquialisms that add a sense of place and realism to this society. The expository bits come out as characters speaking to each other about current events in-world. These sequences still have the flow of naturalistic dialogue, and as such aren’t a chore to get through. Every aspect of this comic’s writing feels deliberately constructed, but with a natural flow that makes for an engaging and relaxed read that the reader will feel drawn into, but not overworked by.
Science fiction comics introducing new visions of the future have to have immensely talented artists to bring these concepts to life. Fortunately, Shof Coker demonstrates he is more than capable of such in New Masters #1. Coker’s detailed and colorful art style brings this vivid vision of far-future West Africa as the Earth’s interplanetary hub to life with stunning energy. Every one of Shof’s character designs, human and alien, are distinct and memorable. Wardrobe design is a mix of futuristic-affluence and ever-present poverty. On one hand, people in upper-tiers of society wear ornate or sleek gowns and professional dress suits. On the other, people still living in the city’s poor outskirts and risk their lives to earn a pittance wear worn tank tops and ripped pants. Each denizen of this city has a different aesthetic to match their role in this society. Shof’s colors highlight this even more. His use of watercolor-esque styling and vibrant, varied tones craft a stunning and definitively futuristic look to the whole comic. I can’t help but compare Shof Coker’s work to to that of Mike Huddleston in Decorum or Nick Dragotta in East Of West. You know this book is doing something right if I’m comparing it to Hickman joints.
New Masters #1 is an exciting and sharply crafted opening chapter for this sci-fi comic with a needed new perspective. Shobo Coker’s script expertly balances exciting action with worldbuilding, compelling exposition, and naturalistic dialogue. Shof Coker’s art is distinct, vivid, and stunning, crafting this futuristic vison of an alien-colonized West African metropolis with a flair both familiar and wholly unique. Be sure to grab this new release when it hits shelves on 2-2!