Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kabuki: Circle of Blood

Kabuki by David Mack is one of those comics/characters that I've seen and heard about pretty much since its beginning. The style of it and the character design always appealed to me and peeked my interest, especially the Scarab character, but for whatever reason, I just never got around to collecting. And in those early days before graphic novels were super common, if you missed out on an indie book right away, it was often too late.

Fast forward twenty odd years to a world that is much kinder to the comic collector. Graphic novels are just as common as single issues. I buy a lot of comics these days, most of which being graphic novels. And in recent years I've started to branch out a lot more. Collecting more than just X-Men titles; which was my primary collection through the 2000s. So with the graphic novel so readily available, I've been going back and collecting things I missed the first time. Kabuki: Circle of Blood being one of my most recent purchases.

Now, after finally reading Kabuki, I'm sorry I waited so long. It is a really unique book all around from the style to the presentation. The best way I could describe it would be Blade Runner meets Kill Bill with slight elements of James O'Barr's the Crow; just without all the 80s goth rock hair cuts. But even that doesn't really do it justice.

The plot of Kabuki revolves around a group of masked female assassins in a futuristic Japan. But these assassins, known as The Noh, are part of a government agency and also television personalities meant to deter crime. The main focus of the story is a Noh agent named Kabuki, her origins, and her journey towards vengeance. As per usual, I don't want to say too much, being very against spoilers. But its a cool little story with great very stylish artwork, which improves with each issue, and cool quirky characters.

There really aren't any major negatives to speak of, but I initially had a slight hesitation in buying Circle of Blood for two reasons. Two reasons that ended up being unfounded. First, the Japanese setting. I had some reservations that you needed to be really into Japanese culture or an otaku type to fully get it. But that isn't the case at all. Kabuki was first published in 1994, before the big anime boom, so the anime and manga cliches aren't present. Mack carefully crafted the world and integrated the Japanese elements so well that it all feels very natural. And he explains anything you need to know. There's no dropping of random Japanese terms and expecting you to know what it means. 

Second, and the biggest, is Kabuki does get rather artsy at times. Normally, the Rob is not a fan of artsy. I'm a simple man and I generally like my comics straight forward in meaning. But Mack does artsy well. Rarely did I find it taking away from the story. And Mack also provides a fair amount of sexy and scantily clad women, which I always appreciate. It's nice to see a smart artistic type book not be afraid of a little skin.
So if you ever loved cyber punk, or Blade Runner, or things of that nature, give Kabuki: Circle of Blood a read. The whole mini-series has been collected in a nice graphic novel that is readily available.

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