By Wing Shing Ma (DrMaster Publications)
ISBN 13: 978-1-59796-041-0
The timeless, relentless Chinese classic originally published by Hong Kong outfit Jademan Comics has been collected and digitally remastered in this trade paperback series. The protagonist, tough and classically good-looking, is named Hero, a husband and father, and he is the latest in a long line of Guardians tasked with protecting a magic sword that is powered by blood. His line has been giving their lives to safeguard the blade for generations, and the ability to endure personal sacrifice is bred to the bone in them.
When a Gangster tries to steal the Blood Sword, the resultant battle results in the death of much of Hero’s family and begins a cat-and-mouse vendetta that encompasses half the planet. The villains are unrelenting, thoroughly evil, and masters of every fighting art and dirty trick. Hero and an incomprehensibly wide circle of friends and associates – who come and go with dazzling brevity – fight an unceasing battle to preserve the sword and avenge his family.
Hong Kong comics are beautiful. They’re produced using a studio art-system that means any individual page might be composed of painted panels, line-art, crayons and art pencils, just literally anything that will get the job done. And that presumably is to enhance not so much a nuance of plot but rather a detail of the mysticism and/or philosophy of Kung Fu that my western sensibilities just aren’t attuned to.
Because that’s fundamentally what this genre of comic is: One glorious, lavish spectacular exhibition of Kung Fu mastery. Like much of the region’s cinema, all other considerations are suborned to the necessity to get the fighting started and to keep it going. If you’re looking for characterisation, sharp dialogue or life-altering experiences, look elsewhere. If, however, you’re seeking Good Guys whomping Bad Guys in extended, eye-popping manner, you might want to give this a go. Be warned though, it is by nature a cliff-hanger tale, so be prepared to wait for succeeding volumes.
Gorgeous, thrilling, adrenaline eye-candy – and no wire-work.
© 2007 Yasushi Suzuki. © 2007 DGN Production Inc.