Shaman Warrior #1 (Dark Horse)

swheaderOne of the top five best-selling titles in the history of Korean comics (or "manhwa") hits American shores.

 

 

208 Pages FC and B&W; $12.95

(W / A: Park Joong-Ki)

 

 

A state at war and somehow Yarong, a shaman warrior, is pivotal to the conflict, but his protégé Batu has no idea how dangerous a political game has swept up the two in Park Joong-Ki's award-winning tale, Shaman Warrior, one of Korea's all time bestselling manhwa titles. Set in rural Kugai, the story opens with Yarong and Batu approaching a ramshackle tavern on the outskirts of the state just before a throng of bandits appears to test their swordsmanship. The two encounter Yuda, a renegade warrior determined to kill Yarong, but to what end?

 

The cover to Shaman Warrior Vol. 1 by Park Joong-Ki. Click the thumbnail for a larger image.Through flashbacks, Park reveals Yarong's connection to the general of Kugai, his parenting of the shaman warrior infant Yaki, and his earliest relationship with Batu. Park chooses to show readers an intimate moment between the general and Yarong, wherein Yarong offers his life, a flower, to the general; moving forward in time, readers see the remorse the general has for backstabbing Yarong by enlisting Yuda to murder him. Through this, Park creates more questions as to what, specifically, Yarong's role was and how that will shape the baby Yaki's future, especially since Batu is determined never to allow her to become a Kugai warrior.

 

Park creates some strong artwork in this manhwa installment. Aside from a few vertigo-inducing striped cloaks, the costuming is spectacularly rendered, battle sequences are dynamic, and characters appropriately expressive. Fights seem to be the most challenging factor for Park, and unfortunately, the majority of the book contains these sequences, which interrupt the flow of the already choppy narrative and create a rather disorienting effect. It makes slower moments much more memorable, but at the same time distracts readers with the confusing array of sword maneuvers and stance changes.

 

Readers may want to give Park a bit of leeway, especially since the story begins in media res, as most stories like this do, and in doing so, it makes the challenge all that greater to balance exposition to action. In this case, Park has a bit more exposition to work into the tale. Maybe give it a volume or two more to see what other tricks Park has up his sleeve. | James Nokes

 

Click here for a 4-page preview of Shaman Warrior Vol. 1 courtesy of DarkHorse.com!

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