Monday, October 31, 2011

Shinku #2 Review

It’s been said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; but you might reconsider that when you see Lee Moder’s cover for Shinku #2.  Moder shows our titular character dual wielding katanas and standing knee-deep in vampire blood with several bodies and heads floating around her.  The artist also depicts our protagonist looking up at the reader with a subtle smirk almost as if she’s beckoning for another attacker.  Simply put, it’s a beautiful cover.  Awesome cover, awesome book.

The book begins with Shinku giving Davis a brief history lesson on samurai.  As someone who has some knowledge of the samurai, I appreciate Ron Marz throwing that into the story.  The best part is that it doesn’t come off as a lecture.  It serves to provide her new partner with some background info on Shinku and her heritage, while also giving readers a true account of the samurai.  The issue ends with Davis inquiring about samurai and her implying his role will become more important.

This second issue ups the action several notches as we see our hero charge into one of Lord Asano’s strongholds.  The true question is for what purpose?  After the reveal of Lord Asano at the end of the previous issue, you might expect her infiltration to be an offensive assault.  You’d be partially right as she takes out nine of Asano’s men in the process and gets a few more licks in during her escape. 

After issue one, readers are still in the dark about what Davis’ work in Tokyo is as well as what he will mean to Shinku’s vampire removal objective.  In my review of the first issue, I speculated that his work will relate to how he will aid our leading lady.  Marz doesn’t explicitly answer that question in this issue, but leaves readers with Shinku handing Davis a shuriken she tossed at Asano; which is covered in his blood.  He then places it inside a plastic baggy.  This can only suggest his work within the realm of science.

Moder, along with fellow art team members Matthew Waite and Michael Atiyeh, do another remarkable job on the visuals.  We see some unique facial expressions from our characters, especially Davis.  He appears shocked in several panels as he’s reacting to the events around.  And who doesn’t love the look on a vampire’s face as he feels his undead life ending?  Atiyeh’s use of red really sets the book off, from Shinku’s lips to her fingernail polish and half of her uniform.  And we can’t forget the blood, of which there is a lot.  I’m left to wonder however, why they chose not to return to the classic look for the flashbacks as they did in the first issue.  It really fit the time period they were showing.  That is not a complaint as it still looks good.

Health issues in the family of one of the creators delayed the third issue.  There is no question that family issues and health take priority.  All appears to be well on that end and the issue is likely to hit stands sometime next month.  Be on the lookout for updates on that front.

I give this book a 5 out 5.

Shinku #1 Review

Shinku is the latest creator-owned book from writer Ron Marz.  Published by Image Comics, the series was co-created by the artist Lee Moder.  Reading that Marz was doing another Indy book was enough to interest me.  Once I read the synopsis, it was an easy decision to add it to my pull-list.

Shinku tells the story of the titular character who is the last member of the Tadataka Clan.  Centuries ago, her clan warred with the Yagyu Clan, headed by the Lord Asano.  Led by Lord Shingen, the Tadataka Clan struggled to kill their enemies as this rival clan was made of vampires and were able to endure and annihilate them.

Modern day Tokyo is the setting for Shinku and her companion Oshima’s work to eliminate the undead.  Davis, an American in Tokyo for work, enters the fold when Shinku saves his life from Hideko during an attempt to go fang deep in his neck.  Davis’ contribution to their efforts is unclear at this early stage.  Since the nature of his work in the city is unknown, it could likely play a role. 

Now you might be expecting a lot of action considering you have samurai and vampires in the equation.  You will be slightly disappointed in that regard.  There is not much on that front outside of Shinku decapitating Hideko and a flashback of the clans at war.  In the flashback, readers see the victorious moments of Lord Asano and his followers along with his beheading of Lord Shingen. 

I can’t recall ever having come across Moder’s pencils before, but it fits the book quite well.  Matthew Waite and Michael Atiyeh round out the art team with them doing the digital inking and coloring, respectively.  Their combined efforts deliver a nice visual tone for not only the modern tale, but also the two flashback spreads.  They went with a look that differentiates between the two time periods.  That is always a nice touch when a book must jump between times.  For those particular pages, our artists work within Japanese samurai lore and achieve a look resembling ancient art.

If you follow Ron Marz’ work, you are likely aware of his appreciation of not only samurai, but various aspects of Japanese culture.  He has written a number of books featuring characters rooted in the samurai tradition.  I highly recommend this series as not only a fan of Marz’ writing; but also as someone who’s enjoying the story and look forward to the following issues. 

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.