Having missed the first issue, I kind of started this book blind. A few pages in and everything was going great; vicious cops, gangs, feng shui and then, the dragons showed up! Somewhere along the way, I must have missed something.
Juan Jin is having something of a downturn in his life. Drugged and kidnapped from his home, he finds himself in all sorts of legal trouble before a release curtesy of Mr Simpson lands him, a bonsai tree and mysterious Golden Dragon statue that has quite a number of followers, in his uncle’s old apartment. Did I mention that dragons show up?
Writer Fabrice Sapolsky carves a very interesting tale. Part Kung Fu, part crime noir and part mysticism, the trio try to merge to give a well-rounded story. In reality, there is only one element that really works for me, another fading into expected turns and one trying hard to bring the big reveal that is jarring in execution and as a story element. Sapolsky has seemed to have seen enough Orange is the New Black to see how prison works, with the confrontation being the high point. The dialogue works as for the most part, providing an interesting read, up to a certain point at least.
Fred Pham Chuong provides the art, which at first takes a little getting used to. Odd body angles, odd camera angles and strong edges give the book a unique feel, that kind of works, even if it feels like we are biding time until the fight scene. Speaking of which, the fight scenes, especially the prison one is choreographed brilliantly, with Pham Choung’s work infused with dynamism and movement along with a controlled amount of pace. It’s easy to see how classic martial art movies have influenced the action here, the awkward angles used, hide their efficiency as blocks, parries and thrusts.
Then of course, there are the dragons.
I like it when Dynamite Comics put out original stuff. For too long, they have been thought of as just a “tie-in” publisher. People tend to forget, that the “tie-in first model” worked well for Dark Horse Comics. Dynamite have a strong stable of books that sparkle with creativity, despite the fact that putting out different types of stories may not appeal to everyone. Still, no book manages to please everyone, all of the time. As such, Dynamite are in good company.
Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
STORY BY Fabrice Sapolsky
ART BY Fred Pham Chuong
COVER BY Fred Pham Chuong
PUBLISHER Dynamite Entertainment