Intertwined (Dynamite Comics) bills itself as a “Kung Fu Noir” story about a young Chinese immigrant, Jin Juan, who arrives in New York City’s Chinatown to receive an inheritance from his late uncle. His plan is to complete this business transaction quickly and return to Hong Kong where he is scheduled to represent his Martial Arts school in the Southeast Asia Open Martial Arts tournament soon. The best laid plans however…….He discovers he has been brought to New York to replace his uncle as one of the five Wu Xing, Warrior Spirits who rule the universe according to Chinese philosophy. The balance of power between the elemental spirits has been thrown out of balance and all hell is threatening to break loose.
I’ll stop here with the synopsis of the plot, because I hate reviews that give major spoilers. Since the book deals with spirit warriors based on elements, let me share with you the elements of the book that worked well for me, and those which I felt were not so wonderful.
Artistically, the Kung Fu Noir element was spot on. Artist Fred Pham Chuong and colorist Veronica R. Lopez do a brilliant job of bringing an early 70’s technicolor feel to the pages. I especially loved the high-quality silhouette work on display throughout the book. I find the art team was most on point when they were illustrating action scenes that take place against the backdrop of the starry city night. Lopez brings the artwork to life with her shading in these panels and to me, this was truly the star of the book.
The story, written by Fabrice Sapolsky, did have some spark to it, but overall, I found that it was fairly uncomfortable to read at some points. Let me state for the record, that when I read the details of the story, I was quite excited and wanted to allow myself to fall in love with it. As a student of Kung Fu for many years, I always enjoy a good tale about mystical spirit warriors who work to bring balance and harmony to the world. In terms of this component, the book was a great success. What I found however, is that Sapolsky added divisive caricatures to the plot, which truly limited my enjoyment overall. The overtly racist police dialogue felt a bit tired. In fact, most characters who were not an immigrant seemed to be cast in a negative light. At one point, I had to walk away and stop reading because this element was too far out of balance for me. It was during this time away from the book that I explored the possibility of being wrong. Maybe Sapolsky was doing more than simply painting broad strokes on the side of a building. Maybe he was trying to explain the fear and humility experienced by immigrants on a regular basis. It might not be the story everyone lives, but it certainly is one to be explored, because it is true for too many. Sometimes the best story elements are the ones that elicit the strongest reaction, and this really dug into me.
This may not sound like a ringing endorsement of Intertwined, but the book, which ultimately deals with balance between all of the elements tells a fun Kung Fu story, while also exposing readers to a world that is possible when said elements are out of harmony. If you’re comfortable with this, it’s worth reading. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you may NEED to read it.
writer: Fabrice Sapolsky
artist: Fred Pham Chuong
cover: Fred Pham Chuong
FC • 160 pages • $19.99 • Mature
COLLECTS ISSUES 1-6