Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review - Okko: The Cycle of Air #1

Okko: The Cycle of Air #1 is the first of four issues that continues the Okko series and follows on the success of Okko: The Cycle of Water and Okko: The Cycle of Earth. The latest incarnation follows Okko, a samurai, in his effort to assist the daughter of Lady Mayudama. She has fallen into a deafening silence and the best doctors in the land have been unable to help her. Is the book worth your time? Or would deafening silence be preferred? Read on for the review.

First off, I'm a big samurai fan. Huge. I love all the Zatoichi films, as a samurai is awesome in his own right but a blind samurai is even awesomer. Okko is the traveling samurai referenced above tasked with saving the daughter. His characterization in the book isn't so much the strong silent type but the confident skilled type. He doesn't shy away from quick retorts and is even at the center of a quick slash on a bridge. Yep, his samurai skill ended up killing a young boy's father demanding toll for passage and the boy doesn't forget. I'm sure this interaction will play a larger role down the road, but in the meantime we're left with foreshadowing.

Okko makes his way to the castle where Lady Mayudama resides. Her daughter is bedridden and seemingly terrified for an unknown reason and it isn't until a few pages later that we learn why: an evil spirit. In a scene reminiscent of Paranormal Activity there's an entity haunting the house that is terrorizing the daughter as well as coming and going as a gust of wind. See, the title makes sense in regards to the evil spirit. As a result of the interaction we learn that Okko has a monk in his entourage who will also most likely play a larger role down the road. In the meantime though, we're left with a cliffhanger of sorts as Kubban is arriving and expects a meeting with Okko.

When two samurai encounter one another it usually means that one of them isn't leaving alive. Judging from this first issue, I doubt Hub (writer and illustrator) will hold anything back in the way of a bloody swordfight. Hub's art is refreshing and has a very distinct feel. The characters are drawn and very well defined and this is a work where the words tell a lot more of the story than the art. Not to take anything away from the art, but the characterization is what really drives the story. Okko comes across as mentioned above, Lady Mayudama has a secret past and Kubban is generally feared before his arrival. The second issue will most likely feature a dialogue-laden confrontation between Okko and Kubban leading up to a great samurai battle.

I like the potential for the series. It looks like it will have a good balance between dialogue and samurai action. Only time will tell though if the supernatural overrides the natural in this book. I really hope we get to see more samurai than spirits. The book hit stores last week, so check it out if intrigue is present.

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