Cape Times review

(Thanks to Joanne Hichens and books editor Lesley Byram)

Friday, 4th December 2009

“I want you to remember my name - Inspector Sam Hart, and you’re under arrest!” POW! (As in loud punch exploding from a speech bubble!)

I felt a frisson of excitement as I settled down to read Brandon Carstens’s Project H (Wonjoolaai Studios), as rekindled in me was a love of comics I’ve had since childhood.

“As long as you’re reading,” my parents would say, “we don’t have a problem with comics.” Remember war comics? Photo comics? Similarly, graphic novel Project H, with stark black and white drawings and fast action, has the same appeal.

Supercop Sam Hart (read: Sam heart-throb), solely responsible for reducing city crime by 20 percent, will tackle - with all the bravado of a comic book hero - any nasty villains, to rid his precinct especially of the criminal element.

Enter Jasper King, a talented motivational speaker and the brains behind Project H, who claims he can cure contemporary South Africa of all evils. Certainly Project H does good, but at what cost (to) the changing façade of Cape Town? During this time of so-called prosperity, Sam’s wife, the beautiful and quirky Cindy Hendricks, of Horizon Social Clinic, is callously murdered and Sam vows vengeance against her killer.

The graphics are bold and striking, for the most part well executed, although the likenesses at times are drawn slightly crudely. There are several inconsistencies with language, but in general it’s authentic, creatively told and entertaining.

All in all there’s lots of promise here for a pacy, sexy, thrilling graphic novel series, with a proudly South African flavour. Carstens should leave behind his religious agenda though; this graphic novel would have been stronger if the story made more subtle reference to Faith.

If Carstens sticks to producing great stories, Sam Hart, known for never following any man’s dogma, could be a household hero, appealing to comic lovers of all ages.

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