Review - The World My Arena #1

"It bad..."

Dealing with people is part of life, despite the fact that it's not always easy. There are some who are content with constantly putting down others around them. In The World My Arena #1, Nathan is one such character forced to contend with an array of obstacles. The issue is written and illustrated by Kang Jing.

A low self-esteem teenager who is despised by nearly everyone in his life, Nathan struggles to find his place and purpose in the world. A world filled with mockery, dissing, abuse and misery that seemingly drives him to the brink of death. Life has other plans for him though, as the chanced encounter with martial arts begins the unexpected upturn in his life. But in a world that has been unkind to him, his morals will be challenged at every turn.

Jing does an excellent job of conveying to the reader how bad things are for Nathan at school where he's constantly bullied because of his size. It's a theme that is relatable to so many people and Jing weaves it into the threads of the plot rather effortlessly. The entire first issue establishes Nathan's plight, both at home where he's raising his little sister and at school where's the butt of ridicule. By the end of the first issue, the reader knows exactly who Nathan is and what he's up against, but there's not really a clear direction after that. The series has moved past the first issue where things unfold a bit, although it would've been more impactful if the first issue established at least a direction for how Nathan would escape his current plight.

Jing relies on heavy black and white inks for the issue--something that achieves a great effect. Each panel feels very meticulously planned out, affording the reader a true sense of what a day in the life of Nathan's world is like. The lack of color is a double-edged sword though, primarily because the effects of Nathan's torment aren't as visually striking without reds, blacks and blues. The panels are very neatly arranged, providing a sense of order that reflects the routine beatings Nathan is subjected to. The main characters all seem a little beefy for high schoolers, but Jing uses that to the advantage of the story in reinforcing the notion of fighting and combatants.

The World My Arena #1 is a figurative title for a book about an individual fighting against something just about every day. Nathan is struggling with physical and mental conflicts, both of which will likely come to a head in future issues. Jing's script is pretty rough in terms of what happens to Nathan, but it will make him stronger for it. Jing's artwork is fairly simple yet effectively showing the reader that ins and outs of his struggles. The World My Arena is a promising first issue that starts laying the groundwork for what could be an interesting series.

The World My Arena #1 is available now.