Tuesday, April 16, 2024

#IReadsYou Review: KONI WAVES


STORY: Mark Poulton
SCRIPT: Mandy Summers
ART: Renzo Rodriguez
COLORS: Dexter Weeks
LETTERS: Dexter Weeks
COVER: Renzo Rodriguez with Ink Spots
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Irene Strychalski; Chris Graves
ISBN: 979-8-987-45314-8; paperback (November 2023)
56pp, Color, $25.00 U.S.

Koni Waves created by Mark Poulton, Stephen Sistilli, and Dexter Weeks

Koni Waves is an independent supernatural horror comic book that was published as a series of miniseries and one-shots from 2006 to 2010 by Arcana Studio.  Created by Mark Poulton, Stephen Sistilli, and Dexter Weeks, Koni Waves focused on Koni Kanawai, a female detective in Honolulu, Hawaii, who specialized in supernatural cases.

Koni Kanawai returns in a new original graphic novel, entitled Koni Waves, that was crowdfunded on Indiegogo last year and was published late last year (2023). The new graphic novel is written by Mark Poulton (story) and Mandy Summers (script); drawn by Renzo Rodriguez; and colored and lettered by Dexter Weeks.  In this new story, Koni becomes involved in a complicated murder case that involves supernatural scheme and conspiracy.

Koni Waves opens with Koni Kanawai rescuing her pal, Pete, from the vampires(!) of Black Bear Cove, but that adventure is easy compared to what is coming.  Koni's father, James Kanawai, a detective with the HPD, wants Koni to try to get back on the force.  Koni, who was suspended apparently after running afoul of Internal Affairs, is willing to give that a try.

Later, at her favorite watering hole, Koni learns that District Attorney Choi believes that he has convicted the wrong man, Danny Snyder, of the murder of Felicity Andrews, an exotic dancer and former associate of Koni's.  Taking on the case, Koni contacts Krystal, another dancer and former associate of Felicity's.  After snooping around, Koni comes to believe that a local power broker, Prince Hopohopo, is connected to the Felicity Andrews case.  However, Koni will discover that this case involves Hawaii's darkest secrets and its edgiest supernatural and spiritual past.

THE LOWDOWN:  A few years ago, I came across the Twitter feed of a Mexican comic book artist named Renzo Rodriguez.  From the first of examples of his art I saw, I thought he was very talented, but because I had never heard of him previously, I assumed Renzo was a new talent.  I would later learn that Renzo was a veteran talent who had been drawing professionally for a long time, including for Zenescope Entertainment.

Last year, I learned that Renzo would be the artist for a crowdfunded project, entitled Koni Waves, so I quickly contributed.  I did not know that Koni Waves was a comics property with a history, so I did not know what to expect.  Now, having read and received this original graphic novel, I am glad that I contributed to the campaign.

Renzo is obviously influenced by legendary comic book artist Art Adams.  Some artists who were influenced by Adams (such as J. Scott Campbell and Rob Liefeld) picked up on Adams' stylish flourishes.  However, what Renzo seems to have taken from Adams is the ability to compose complex, multi-panel pages that allows a story to be told in detail without going into overdrive with decompression.  Most of Renzo's pages have at least seven panels of varying size, and Renzo composes detailed backgrounds and environments in a way that compares to the work of set decorators for film and television.  Renzo makes the world of Koni Waves feel lived-in, like a real place.

All those panels on each page allows scripter Mandy Summers to flesh out Mark Poulton's character-rich story in a way that conveys motivation and personality, plot and mythology, and action and drama.  Summers makes Koni Waves read like an actual graphic novel in a way that so-called graphic novels (trade paperbacks) three times its size do not.

Dexter Weeks' precise, rich colors capture the curves, shapes, and contours of Renzo's figure drawing.  Those colors make every character seem alive and, in the case of some, seem quite sexy, and they also make the art pop on the page.  In addition, Weeks' lettering finds plenty of space for Summers' dialogue, so that nothing is crowded out.

I like Koni Waves, and I'd like to see more of Koni and her closest allies and most dangerous adversaries.  This comic book scratches the surface of Koni Waves' supernatural skin, but the freaks want to come out.  So I say let them out with more Koni Waves.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of supernatural and occult detective comics will want Koni Waves.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


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