Review – Shinku #1

I think the major takeaway that I got from Shinku #1 is how much setting and a little debauchery combined with just enough brutality can revitalize what I otherwise might have said is an overdone genre. You weren’t tired of vampires were you? Rest assured, even if your answer to that was, “Yeah, a little,” you will STILL want to take a look at Shinku #1.

Let me start by saying this, I’ve yet to read a Ron Marz created and written comic I didn’t enjoy. Lee Moder joins him as co-creator and artist in this title and Matthew Waite and Michael Atiyeh are on the digital inks and coloring on this Image published title. If you're a fan of Marz then you should probably check it out.

Just to set things up and try to explain why the setting makes this a little more fresh from a story perspective let’s quickly cover the backstory. Shinku is the last surviving member of the Tadataka Clan, once one of the most powerful clans in feudal Japan. This all changed when they began to feud with the Yagnu Clan, a rising power.

Why did the feud begin? Perhaps because the noble samurai of the Tadataka found it distasteful that the Yagnu consisted of an army of the undead. That makes sense to me. There is one problem though: vampires are pretty strong and even the power of the Tadataka Clan crumbled before them.

So we’ve already discussed Shinku and her history but there are also a few other characters that stand out as major players in the first title. Davis is an unfortunate normal guy who moved to Japan for work and finds himself out of place. His local buddy is trying to push him to meet some girls at the club they are frequenting, and wouldn’t you know it, the first one turns out to be a vampire.

This begins the spiral that leads Davis to Shinku where she eventually reveals to him that he is going to help her end this war with the vampires forever. Whether or not Davis is special or selected completely at random remains to be seen. It seems like these “coincidences” are never completely random thought, right?

On the other side of things is our primary villain – the Daimyo of the Yagnu Clan – Asano. Given that the clan has been around since the feudal age of Japan it is safe to assume they are vastly powerful and have infiltrated all levels of society and government as vampires are wont to do. We see Asano twice in this issue, once in the epic battle with the Tadataka Clan and once in modern days. He is equally brutal in both scenes and will be a very formidable foe. It appears that orgies – for lack of a better word – with Asano and his vampire harem do not end well for their victims either.

What we have here is a woman who reminds me of a slick Japanese Blade-like character even though, as far as we know, she is still fully human and not some hybrid trying to end an old feud with vampires. There are some pretty raunchy scenes and clearly this work is planning on using the “female vampires use their sexual wares to seduce victims” trick.

The entire book just has a look and feel that differentiates it from the other vampire titles out there due to the infusion of Japanese artistry, historic settings in some parts and the kind of “last stand of a noble human clan against the undead” storyline that is developing. Add in a healthy dose of brutal blood-filled combat and Japanese cultural references and art work and I think you have a recipe for success.

Interested? Check out the interiors below and pick it up in stores when you see it. Happy reading!