Review: ‘Blaze Brothers’ Is The Perfect Page-Turner For A Hip-Hop Stan

Blaze Brothers marries Jay Z lyrics with the hard knock life

In the age of podcasts and Spotify, flipping through a comic book sounds as old-school as using a remote to change a TV channel. Still, IDW Publishing is keeping their graphic novels lit thanks to the Blaze Brothers, a tale of two orphan half-brothers named Jack and Billy Blaze, whose top priority is family and worst problem is staying out of trouble. Raised in the school of hard knocks by their father figure, Master Chen, the Blaze Bros. could be considered the thug-life version of the Men In Black. Whether riding around and blasting Jay Z’s “99 Problems” or trying to have a heart-to-heart with God at church while smoking a bogey, Jack and Billy are bad boys with the best intentions. Cut to scene: the Blaze Brothers try to duke it out with their demons, courtesy of an ass-kicking session taught by Daddy Dearest at Chen’s Herbal Market. “Do you think I have not walked the same path you walk?,” Master Chen tells the siblings in Chapter 2. “Once I was the most feared swordsman in China. But my recklessness led to nothing but tragedy. Because of me, my brother and his family, simple rice farmers, were murdered at the hands of my enemies. Against my clan’s orders, I took revenge. I killed all who had spilled my brother’s blood.” Now you see where the Blaze Brothers get it from. Still, the graphic novel is a trip from front to back. When not meditating in the privacy of their own homes or downing brews at Shamrock Bar, Billy and Jack face a dangerous mission after a Japanese crime boss named Mr. Yamamoto recruits them to deliver a briefcase to a party at the Red Lotus Hotel. Hell breaks loose when Billy brings two ladies to their hotel room, who swipe the luggage hours before their 8am deadline. It only takes four page flips before the Blaze Brothers become wanted felons for $2 million. Reading Blaze Brothers is as quick as scrolling through timelines. The graphic novel’s sarcastic humor would make House of Cards’ Frank Underwood LOL. Money, power and respect is often the theme of classic rap songs and must-see martial arts films, yet become intertwined in Blaze Brothers. Writers Vernon Whitlock III and Mathew Scott Krentz nail lingo that a hip-hop millennial could get jiggy with (Sample line: “You’re… wrong, dickhead! I got… huge fucking… balls!”) and the artwork, helmed by pencilers Marat Mychaels and Dietrich Smith, are easier on the eye than Rihanna on Instagram. Even Kimora Lee, who holds the story near and dear to her heart, gives it the ultimate co-sign. “All fans of great storytelling will appreciate Blaze Brothers,” she tells VIBE. “Multicultural and with a global setting, the novel’s sharp dialogue, layered characters and compelling images combine to tell a story that’s both arresting and keenly relevant.” For any individual in need of an escape from the drabness of their 9-to-5 or a thrill-seeker who enjoys the art of badassery, Blaze Brothers brings the light to dark places.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

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