Friday, November 18, 2016

Review - Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 (@IDWPublishing)


"The familiar stranger that we all fear. It has finally come for me..."

There are often tales of wars waged without the knowledge of the people at large. These battles are typically against supernatural forces and typically feature some sort of fighting force tailored specifically to their opponent. It's not often that it's a group such as the Yakuza fighting demons as in Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 from IDW Publishing. The issue is written by Amit Chauhan, illustrated by Eli Powell, colored by K. Michael Russell and lettered by Marshall Dillon.

Tokyo harbors a dark secret! When a museum heist goes wrong, a damaged thief named Ochita becomes trapped in the middle of a battle between a horde of demons and the merciless Yakuza. No matter who wins, humanity loses.

Chauhan spends most of Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 keeping things on a pretty even-keel, introducing the main characters and putting them in a fairly routine (for them at least) scenario. Ochita is definitely a very damaged character with a unique skillset that Chauhan leans upon to move the plot forward. For most of the issue Chauhan wants the reader to follow along with a fairly standard heist job and it's only towards the end of the issue when Chauhan cranks things up--a lot. In this regard, Chauhan paces things very evenly, giving the reader proper introductions to the main players and getting them settled before throwing in a demonic curveball. The fact that its the Yakuza fighting this eternal battle between the demons is an interesting twist and Chauhan will surely use that to keep things fun.

The biggest part of what makes Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 work so well is Powell's gritty and haunting illustrative style. The issue opens with Ochita passing out in an alley and thanks to Powell's approach the reader gets the sense that Ochita's not a good person with a propensity for getting in worse situations. There's an abundance of heavy cross-hatching and shading that Powell infuses the issue with. You can't read Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 and not feel the pervasive sense of dread hanging over the characters as Powell goes to great lengths to craft some truly terrifying looking beings. Russell's colors only further this sense of griminess as much of the issue is colored in sickly colors.

Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 spends most of the first issue as one thing before it quickly becomes something else entirely. Ochita may have stumbled upon a job bigger than even she could ever imagine and the stakes are likely higher as well. Chauhan's script is engaging and demonstrates a well-thought out, overarching plot. Powell's illustrations are eerie and deftly capture the notion that demons live and walk among us. Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 is a new take on the demon-fighting concept that could get even more interesting as the story unfolds.

Yakuza: Demon Killers #1 is in stores now.

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