By Wing Shing Ma (DGN/DrMaster Publications)
This is the final volume in the spellbindingly action-packed but narratively nonsensical martial arts drama. Fans of the bizarre yet so enthralling series will be delighted and probably amazed that the spectacular fighting and action scenes are ratcheted up to an even more frenetic pitch as Hero Hua and the remnants of his family continue to defend the mystical Blood Sword from the meanest and most accomplished master villains of the veritable horde of vicious, exotic baddies determined to use its powers for evil.
If you need a starting context, it all kicked off when a gangster tried to steal the Sword, which Hero’s family had guarded for centuries. That fight’s collateral damage included most of Hero’s family, and began a bloody vendetta encompassing half the planet. The Foes are thoroughly evil, masters of every fighting art and dirty trick whom Hero and his incomprehensibly wide circle of friends and associates – coming and going with dazzling brevity – must fight unceasingly to preserve the Sword and achieve their vengeance.
I’ve said it before and it’s still true: Hong Kong comics are beautiful. Produced using an intensive studio art-system wherein any individual page might be composed of painted panels, line-art, crayons and coloured pencils – literally anything that will get the job done.
They’re wonderful to look at, but don’t expect them to make much sense, because fundamentally this genre of comic is one glorious, spectacular exhibition of Kung Fu mastery. Like much of the region’s classic cinema, all other considerations are suborned to the task of getting the fighting started and just keeping it going.
Remarkably that carries on right up until the very last page here. There’s no resolution – at least not in any recognisable western manner – just a brief cessation of violence, and as a tacked on text epilogue explains, all the varied combatants will go on making their plans and fighting for and against evil. The adventure never truly ends.
If you’re looking for characterisation, sharp dialogue or closure, look elsewhere. If, however, you want Good Guys thumping Bad Guys in eye-popping ways, give this fantastical series a shot. I never really “got it” but I think I’m going to miss it!
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