Cover Image: Hardears

Hardears

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Member Reviews

Hardears is an Afro-Caribbean fantasy-adventure graphic novel by Matthew Clarke and Nigel Lynch. The story takes place in an alternative world on Jouvert Island; a magical analog of the island of Barbados and begins when a superstorm of unprecedented strength obliterates the island, leaving it totally defenseless.

I wanted to read this graphic novel because it sounded like nothing I have ever read before. I know nothing about Afro-Caribbean folklore, and the guide at the beginning helped. It is still quite complicated, though, because with its maps and guilds and a large cast of characters, it might as well be a 700-pages-long fantasy novel.

The comic book is set in a world where mystical beings are fully integrated into the modern society and technology (like flying fish that are built into different modes of transport). And it's frigging cool, especially visually. The battle scenes look amazing.

Other elements felt pretty basic: a hero who's just met a lady he's into, a large-scale tragedy that leaves everyone at the mercy of a heartless capitalist, and an evil conspiracy! Now our MCs, including some fierce ladies, have to defeat the capitalists who steal good vibes (quite literally, good vibes is what the island needs to survive). The story is more dystopian than advertised, and I didn’t mind that. I like me some good dystopia, and this one raises the issue of the place of tradition and nature in the modern technologically advanced society.

And I really appreciated the afterword, in which Cathy Thomas talks about Hardears within the tradition of science fiction and fantasy talking about Black lives and mixing technology with nature (we all know Black Panther). It was a good choice to include it.

If you grew up watching the original Star Wars movies and enjoy action packed stories of heroes saving the world, where the technology looks great, but isn't exactly explained, this comic book is definitely for you. And I believe that it's worth reading for the things that make it different from the most popular stories: the Afrofuturism and ethnographic surrealism. (Look at me, using big words.)
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This graphic novel was not for me, but it was well thought out and executed very well. When it is in all color it will be breathtaking. The introduction to the characters at the beginning was very appreciated.
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The premise and art are really promising. I DNF-ed the ARC copy, because the font was way too small, and wasn't easier to read zoomed in, so I cannot give a full review. It seemed like there is a bit too much going on with the amount of characters and lore.
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It saddens me that I cannot read the e-arc of this as it is super blurry and unreadable so I cannot review this even though I have contacted Netgalley. I will be reading this when it comes out as I was genuinely looking forward to this. (When read, my full review will be on Goodreads)
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Unfortunately, this was not a hit for me.  First, the text was too small.  No matter how much you zoomed in, you could not distinguish certain letters and it created problems with what is actually said.  The story was also disappointing.  The plot sounded interesting but it was too messy.  Too many characters.  Figuring out who belonged to which event plot was difficult.
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Note: The ARC review copy provided contained incomplete artwork and was of low resolution.

In Hardears Nigel Lynch and Matthew Clarke have created a fantasy world of extraordinary creatures and rich mythos on par with the very best. The decision to use Caribbean folktales as a base to jump off and tell original stories pays off. Often fantasy stories are set in Western European/Medieval settings which made the setting of Jouvert Island all the more unique and engaging. I loved the world of Headers. Everything from the character and creature designs to the world architecture is inventive and fabulous. 

There are some intriguing characters in the book. The villainous Mr Harding and the pirates make fantastic foils. Unfortunately, most of the protagonists are two dimensional to the point of being cardboard cutouts. Bolo is bland, and I struggled to care about him or what he did. I found myself only caring if Bolo and his crew succeeded because I wanted Mr Harding to be stopped. The plot itself is basic, which is fine if you have a cast of intriguing and engaging characters who you want to succeed. The richness of the original artistry that makes the rest of the Hardears world contrasts with the deficiency of charisma in the heroes who are supposed to save it.

In the end, Hardears is fine. It is even terrific in parts when the action gets going. It’s worth reading just for the gorgeous artwork alone. 

Lynch and Clarke have succeeded in creating a fascinating world. I would love to return to it and read more adventures set in it. Next time, I hope they write a story featuring characters who have the charm and complexity to match the setting in which their fates will unfold.
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Hardears is a new graphic novel from Megascope Comics that breaks away from expected comic norms and instead brings readers a world created around the myths and legends of Carribean folktales to create a new fantasy world unlike anything you'll have seen before.

Set on the Jouvert Islands, the story follows several characters, including Bolo, a local hero who has the power to increase his size and strength, something that has made him a champion farmer who can easily outpace any new farming machine. When a mega storm hits the island Bolo springs into action, saving the young woman he has a crush on, Zaharah.

With the island devastated by the storms a local businessman, Mr Harding, steps in to assist the population rebuild, and thanks to his amazing machines the destruction is quickly repaired. However, it appears that there is more to Mr Harding than first appears, and he soon starts taking over the island, forcing the population into working in his giant factories, and putting down any rebellion with swift force. When they discover that Mr Harding is draining the essence from people to stay young and strong Bolo and Zaharah flee. Together with some new allies they begin the hard process of building a resistance that can stand against the dangerous Mr Harding.

The story of Hardears felt a little overwhelming at first, due in some part to the fact that the first few dozens of pages of the book were given over to a small guide about the world, where places and people were laid out to readers, and long paragraphs given over to the various supernatural and fantastical entities and phenomena we'd be encountering. It felt like learning  a lot before even getting the chance to begin; and even then when it came to the book some of these things didn't really come up much. I occasionally wondered why I'd had to read a long description of a certain creature if it was only appearing in a couple of panels.

Despite this, the story is pretty simple, it's about people fighting for their freedom and their lives, which is a story that everyone can understand and get behind. It meant that the heroes felt larger than life, people fighting to save everyone and everything they've ever know; whilst the bad guys just want to consume and destroy, leaving nothing in their wake. It's big and grand, and that definitely works in the books favour.

There is a large section in the middle of the book that shifts focus away from Bolo and the events happening on the island, instead following the crew of a ship that gets lost and has to fight their way through a four way pirate war to be able to get back home to Jouvert Islamd. This section is okay, but its the one that interested me the least, and at times felt like it was padding the book a bit. These characters arrive towards the conclusion of the book, and prove to be a decisive factor in the finale, but they could have still served the same purpose without us having to see what they were doing whilst everything else was going on.

I can't say too much about the art for the book, as sadly the preview version was released in black and white rather than full colour, something that the final book will be in. I think having the book in colour would definitely have changed the enjoyment of the book for me, as there were quite a few times that the book felt dull and oppressive, where the limited colour pallet definitely changed how I processed certain parts of the book.

Overall I enjoyed Hardears, despite not loving everything  about it. It offered me a fantasy story that felt so different from anything I'd read before, and it definitely feels unique to itself. I'm looking forward to reading it again when its released in full colour, to see if perhaps that allows me to enjoy the book full.
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Hardears is a wonderful story told through dynamic imagery and imaginative illustrations. The visual storytelling is kinetic and matches the writing.  I look forward to any future works from Matthew Clarke and Nigel Lynch.
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This is a mix of really interesting worldbuilding (using Caribbean magic and myth as a jumping off point) and a really pedestrian plot.  Good versus evil and underdog versus corporate evil are in some ways timeless, but despite the fascinating magic and culture it felt like I'd read this story many times before.
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Sorry to inform the ecopy ARC was blank and even after I tried to download the book many a times, it was the same. 

I would like to read this book soon.

Kindly look into the matter.
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Received an arc for an honest review.

Hardears is a combination of afro Caribbean folk lore and  fantastical elements and I really enjoyed the weaving of these elements together, it was done well and managed to provide not only an interesting story but an originality that I haven't come across before. You can tell that the authors did their research.

There are flying fishes, gigantic tortoises that people ride and people with extraordinary powers. The art style is just stunning, I did not receive the colored version but I just know it will be even more beautiful.. 

My only criticism is the the writings and dialogue boxed are quite small and it will be difficult for people with vision problems or dyslexia to read such small texts
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!
(Received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review)
“Join with me so we can use our talents to build them! And through them we can rebuild our lives together in the spirit of community.”
This book was really interesting. This graphic novel involves communities in Jouvert Island that goes through political turmoil due to their leaders, a dictator, and pirates taking advantage of them. The main villains in Hardears are the Mechanadors since they’re manipulating the people of Jouvert Island to join them since their government has failed them during their time in crisis.

Hardears mostly goes over race, colonialism, and politics, so if you like a graphic novel that goes over these themes with great drawings especially during the action scenes, then this book is for you.

My only concern is that I wanted more strong and complex female characters in Hardears, specifically more on the protagonist’s side, but Sara and Mary, and a couple of other female characters’ character designs were a great addition to the story. I also feel like the pacing of the graphic novel could’ve been a little better but maybe the pacing of it just isn’t what I’m used to. But I really like how Hardears introduces their readers to Caribbean mythology by including even mythological creatures into the story since it’s something I’m not as familiar with. Character designs of the mythological creatures were also really well-drawn especially during the fighting scenes. Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel. If you’re into themes with diverse characters, mythology, a political turmoils with a variety of villains, then this graphic novel is right for you.
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Hardears is an interesting concept to say the least. No one hears about the Carribean islands or the culture so it's good to be able to explore the area. So the stuff of folklore and myth make a way to present themselves including how a fictionalized concept can apply. Turns out vibes are a way of currency for the numerous peoples and what provide them superhuman abilities. So what happens when a spirit of mixed heritage brings industrialization to fill his vampiric needs to feed on vibes? It's a great world with a lot of potential. The problem is rather than explore it organically, they just put everything up before the story even begins. Then there is a MacGuffin quest some characters not too connected to the main plot are on that's genuinely interesting but it throws off the main plot just to introduce a plot element. As for the illustrations, it seems the artists want to present a scale but don't show how the characters are reacting, just save time and energy on getting the plot forward. There just doesn't seem to be enough character going around to actually get invested in most of the cast.
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Wow! This book is visually appealing and I loved the way the creators spent pages establishing their universe and characters before we even get to the story. Wonderful world-building. I know many young adult readers who would bask in this book, and some older readers, too. A recommended graphic novel read.
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