Writers: Mike S. Miller & Sean J. Jordan
Artists: Mike S. Miller (breakdowns), Carlos Paul (finished pencils), Rafael Dantas (inks)
Publisher: Alias Comics
This comic opens with a gravity-defying kung fu battle between some blokes in suits, one of whom is wearing cool insect-eye shades. Then, after five pages of plain text, a particularly wonderful use of the comics medium I thought, the book shifts to sometime in the past and somewhere in the far east, for a sequence involving a kung-fu monastery and some quasi-Buddhist wisdom. Finally, the book shifts back to the modern day as three rather smug masters of martial arts straight from some bad 80ís American kung fu flick are inducted into some mysterious task by some mysterious eastern martial arts master who might be one of the quasi-Buddhists from the previous sequence or perhaps one of the blokes in suits from the first scene.
As you can probably tell, this isnít the most innovative bit of graphic storytelling around, but thatís not necessarily a problem; after all The Matrix is itself bastardised hybrid of bits and pieces from all over the shop, and that turned out okay. The point is to do something fun and worthwhile with the influences. However, this comic doesnít. Thereís a bit towards the end, when one character says something along the lines of ďthey see one Bruce Lee movie and they think they can be kung fu mastersĒ and thatís embarrassingly appropriate to the comic itself; it feels like the creators have just spliced together bits of their favourite martial arts movies without doing anything interesting with them, expecting them to somehow carry the comic on their own.
Itís not a particularly good use of the medium either; the opening scrap is okay, but it lacks the dynamism and inventiveness necessary to make martial arts comics work. The comic as a whole looks very static and posed, with no sense of fluidity, and is a bit of a dull read as a result. But even that is better than the big chunk of text that gets dropped into the middle of the comic; most creators would have done this as a sequence of images with narrative captions, but here we get plain text. For five pages. Whatever interest and excitement the reader may have built up leading into these pages is completely dispersed by this utterly demented storytelling decision. That itís some bizarre attempt at a monomyth that equates the Hebrew god with a martial arts master just makes things worse.
This comic cost seventy-five of your American cents, and while itís not brain-munchingly awful enough for me to decry it as a waste of that small amount of money, I canít recommend it. If youíre into martial arts comics, buy a handful of Way of the Rat or Master of Kung Fu back issues instead.
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