It’s an interesting move when a North American publishing house sets up a comic book storyline deep in Asian culture. A move that will set aside the publisher from its peers. Still, it’s been done before in western comic books. With the obvious example being Wolverines various jaunts into Japan. Because when you’re Logan and life gets you down – head to a fishing village in the land of the rising sun. Enter Honor and Curse, where Mad Cave Studios, promise equal parts Japanese feudalism and supernatural monsters.
Honor and Curse #1 introduces us to the world of Genshi, a shinobi in-training. Training for the ultimate honor. To be named as successor to his Master Nishiro’s assignment as Clan Iga’s shinobi. With this main plot point understood, the reader is intially introduced to Genshi scaling a cliff in feudal Japan. His only companion the demonic entity that seems to possess him to some degree. Taunting his every move before he finally rests at the top of the cliff, drawing his blade and stabbing himself. The ending of Genshi’s life. The destiny of the protagonist. Or so we are led to believe.
Writer Mark London wastes little time in establishing a cruel feudal Japanese culture as we witness the death of Genshi’s family. Rendering him an orphan before leaping to the second act of the comic: Genshi’s tutelage under Master Nishiro and their service to Lord Haruki. Genshi’s position as servile shinobi trainee is established, on a page where he gets his ass kicked by a fellow trainee, after getting distracted by Lord Haruki’s daughter.
The team of Nicolas Salamanca and Tekino is an effective pairing. As London introduces us to the story itself, Salamanca and Tekino introduce us to world recognisable as Asian by design. Little nuances like Japanese camellia are a neat little addition to the exotic background of Honor and Curse. As are the intricate details of Nishiro’s dojo later in the issue. These are well thought out designs that litter Genshi’s world and highlight the environment of the supporting characters.
Without spoiling too much of the relationship between Genshi and the supernatural monster haunting him. Honor and Curse #1 is a well thought out book where you can tell research of the feudal Japanese environment has been painstakingly carried out. While it’s a little odd to see a Japanese centric odd to have pages in colour as opposed to a manga issue. Questionable dialogue aside, this book doesn’t carbon copy the manga style of forebears like Akira Toriyama or Masanori Ota. Pick up this book only because it’s an interesting take on eastern culture mixed with fiction from an outsiders perspective.
How did we rate this issue? 5 Sodas