Djinn Vol 1-2: Desire in the Eyes of History
Recently reprinted through Insight Comics, Djinn tells the tale of, well, the Djinn. Specifically a harem girl for the “Black Sultan” known as Jade, seen above. Beyond being rumored to be a Djinn, she was also the Sultan’s favorite. A position of power coveted by many, she dictated the ebb and flow of the goings on in his harem. That’s, honestly, a role she pretty much fulfills during the first two volumes of this series.
Ah but you might be wondering, what IS a Djinn? Under its classical definition under Koran and Muslim traditions, it is a spirit of knowledge. Located a bit under angels, they are known for taking human or animal form and exerting influence over people. In the case of this comic, that influence is sexual.
Cause let me tell you, this comic has a LOT of sex in it. Primarily through the lens of Jade as she goes from male to female lovers, manipulating many parties at the behest of the Sultan. Eventually she comes to do this for her own desires, but I am jumping ahead. Lets go through volume by volume to see how this story shaped up shall we?
Volume 1: Our Story Begins
The first volume takes place in what would be considered “modern times”. Above you can see the introduction of two of our main characters Kim Nelson and Malek. Of the two, Kim is the more important to the narrative as it is focused on her grandmother Jade whom we have seen at the beginning of this article. See, Kim is on a quest in order to find information on her grandmother. The why of this is never really explained clearly, just that this is what she is doing.
In this exchange, as well as through most of the volume, her and Malek follow a trail of bread crumbs to find said information. Meanwhile, while this is happening, the narrative shifts 50 years into the past to show what Jade was doing at that time.
In her part of the tale, she is consulting with the “Black Sultan” also known as Murati. He is attempting to use her, as his favorite, to manipulate the political structure of upcoming diplomatic talks to make a more favorable position for Turkey. Its a mouthful to say and type, so to summarize: Sex people for favors. And she does that, in spades, specifically upon the Lord Nelson and his wife of the British Envoys.
She specifically works her charms on the Lady Nelson. It isn’t made clear why until much later, when pictures surface of said Lady engaging in lewd acts with other Turkish individuals. The intention seems to be to cause a scandal within the British envoys to weaken their bargaining power. It works, yet in unexpected ways. See, Lord Nelson isn’t the type of person to be taken as a fool. He renounces his diplomatic position, breaks into the Sultan’s palace to free his wife, only to kidnap Jade in the dead of night.
This leads to further talks collapsing between the Turks and the British. Letting the door open wide for the German team to swoop in to get that allegiance they crave. Yet despite all of this, the narrative chooses to (mostly) keep focus on this new budding relationship between Nelson and Jade.
And eventually the Lady Nelson, once she extracts herself from the palace to link up with them.
Its here that the narrative shifts back to the present. After a couple of flash starts, we are introduced to the third character of the present drama.
This here is Amin Doman. A ruined businessman through squandering his families wealth, he is on a quest of his own that ties to Kim’s own quest. While merely hinted at, we can see that he would go to any lengths to see his wealth returned. We see this by his sabotaging one of his own merchant vessels to explode just to collect the insurance money. A truly ruthless individual.
The rest of this volume continues on this path of jumping between narrative points. Often times paralleling each other in real time, such as with Kim’s trial of the bells being mimic’d by Kim Nelson’s own trial.
This trial, by the way, is a test of sorts for new harem members. Essentially they have to sex with as many people as they have bells on their belt. Success means a bell is removed, failure involves a punishment often times involving a whipping. Classy stuff. Which, towards the end of volume 1, leads up directly into volume 2.
Volume 2: The Payoff
I hinted at this a bit earlier in the article. But the quest that the Amin is on? He is looking for what you see above in the image. A treasure unlike anything the world has seen before, its value being quite immense. He wants it for himself, obviously, to not be a broke poor person.
Nearly everyone Kim meets in the present time assumes she is after the same thing. She isn’t, at first, but eventually comes to see it as her inheritance. After all, she is a direct descendant from Jade and, eventually, comes to embrace her Djinn heritage. Which essentially means she is seen as desirable by practically all men while she feels “nothing”. What this means isn’t fully explained, but from what I gather it just means her heart doesn’t “beat” in terms of feeling love, fear, or other emotions.
Its real weird, won’t lie.
Regardless, Volume 2 is pretty straight forward as a story. With Volume 1 acting as the set up, Volume 2 is all about the chase. The past in trying to find the treasure first, and the present attempting to see if the treasure is still there. Which, as a spoiler, is not there anymore. The past moved it, so now the present has to go on a further journey to figure out where that particular treasure is.
How did I feel about these volumes over all? That’s really complicated. While the art and the politicking I found to be quite enjoyable, the series portrayal of women is problematic. A lot of people are not going to be happy with the Trial of the Bells section of the comic that is for sure.
In the end, if you are interested in a more adult themed story with lots of nudity and extremely good looking art, have a gander to see if this wets your palate. If not? I recommend finding something else to read.