The best Kung Fu stories take place in the gritty streets of rough cities amid simple street thugs and crime kingpins alike. I can’t think of a better setting that the streets of Harlem for Son of Shaolin Book 1 to be set. This first collected graphic novel of the Image Comics series is quite possibly one of the more compelling and original books I’ve seen in quite a while.
We’re introduced to Kyrie, who simply wants to perfect his street art. He is unaware of the danger coming for him. Being the target of Red Fist, who is hell-bent on destroying the descendants of all five Shaolin bloodlines, Kyrie learns there is much more being offered to him in life than a can of spray paint and a delivery job. Upon discovering he is the last living tiger, he begins training with Master Fong in an effort to save himself, as well as the world from the terror Red Fist threatens to bring down upon everyone.
Son of Shaolin is a rare triple threat book that offers brilliant writing, phenomenal art, and electric coloring. Jay Longino (Creator and Writer) has found an exceptional balance between the human-interest story about a young man, trying to find his way in the world with little to no direction, and an epic Kung Fu tale of power-hungry antagonists who will stop at nothing to get what they want. The coming of age tale is complete with an epic battle between Kyrie and Red Fist, which sets the future direction of the series.
As amazing as the story is, Caanan White (Artist) does a masterful job bringing this story to life with some of the cleanest art you will find in a comic book today. Each panel is masterfully drawn and there is absolutely no wasted space to be found. Caanan proves to us in this book he is a modern master at creating intense emotion that needs to be celebrated.
Shining lights of the city, shadows of the night, and the soft glow of a subway car are the playground for Diego Rodriguez (Colorist) to work his magic. He completes the soft, city noir texture that is such an important part of this story. Each member of this creative team performs at a superstar level, each appearing to try to outdo the others.
This creative and original story is a breath of fresh air. There is plenty of fast paced action to satisfy you while at the same time delivering solid character development. With this creative team in place, I see no end to what can be a tremendous series for a long long time.
Story: Jay Longino
Art / Cover: Caanan White