Review-ish: Joe M. Sonntag’s “Reaper Destroyer” (Superior Press)

Joe M. Sonntag took a page out of Sean Ahrendt’s playbook and participated in a “trunk sale” to crowdfund his Reaper Destroyer ashcan. People who wanted to get a comic con-style preview of his upcoming crowdfunded venture were asked to reach out to him via one of his social media accounts to order one. After paying $20 (shipping included) this past October, I was one of approximately 140 people added to Sonntag’s list. I did end up paying an extra $10 for a 10.5” X 7” head sketch of Reaper Destroyer to be added to my order, too.

I received the 16-page 8.5” X 5.5” preview book packaged in a Gemini mailer in mid-January. Aside from my additional sketch, I also received a 10.5” X 7” print and a magnet of the Reaper Destroyer logo. The ashcan contained six pages of story and the rest was rounded out with character sketches, character backgrounds, and a guest sketch of Reaper Destroyer by Shelby Robertson (Ninety-Four, Ragetality’s War).

L@@K!!!

Sonntag brought in some power house talent to collaborate with him, including two of his favorite Top Cow inkers, Joe Weems and Matt “BATT” Banning. By the grace of his pitch and his timing, they agreed. In addition, Mark Poulton (Graveyard Shift, USAssassin) will be assisting Sonntag with the script and editing, while Eric Weathers (Battle Brick Road) is providing the lettering.

The story of Reaper Destroyer follows the struggle of one Matthew Walker and his battle with an inner being for control of his own body. This being – known as “Reaper Destroyer” – has taken over the host in its destined cycle to become a living weapon. The six pages feature a very dynamic battle of Reaper Destroyer against an unknown group of “baddies”, as well as a one-page introduction to whom I think will be the villain of the story.

The main art is black and white, while the voice of the Reaper Destroyer is written in red and the sound effects are either red or yellow. I do like the emphasis on the colors for the sound effects, but I do feel as though the art would benefit from color. I felt that the larger details of the action were lost in the finer details of the lines. Having color to create some separation and differentiate the characters (or other subjects in the panel) would make for an easier read, especially with the close-ups.

SLAM! WHAP! AAAAH!

Others seemed excited for the book’s gold foil cover, but this was not a favorite of mine, as I felt that it muted the line art. Seeing pictures of the original cover art (without the foil effects), it contrasts better, to my eyes. The cover is a gorgeous piece drawn by Sonntag, inked by Jimmey Reyes (DragonRage), and colored by Bryan Valenza, and the gold foil is simply not doing it justice.

The idea for Reaper Destroyer started in 2005, and in 2007 Sonntag sold 50 copies of a preview book at the Wizard World Chi Con. However, further development was placed on the back-burner for about a decade while Sonntag pursued a successful musical career with the band Mine Enemies Fall. Over the next decade, he continued with art by creating the band’s album artwork, shirts and posters. After realizing he had enough of the rock star life, Sonntag returned to his passion project.

On 1 February, Sonntag is planning to run a “second chance” campaign for the ashcan just like the first edition, but this time with a silver foil cover. For those that may be interested, reach out to him via any of his social media accounts. While this preview book was deliberately made in black and white, the full project is planned to be presented in color when it is crowdfunded on Indiegogo starting sometime in April. Keep an eye out for it!

Reaping and destroying this April

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