Longtime comics author Marcus “Nick” Almand tragically passed away due to cancer this year but Oni Press has released one of his works, Ophen Blade, a collaboration with Jake Myler. The story is a feudal type fantasy with a Japanese manga and culture-influenced feel. The book is bright and colorful, easy to follow, and features a young anti-hero protagonist.
Story: Sorcerers have unleashed monsters, Kaijuu, from another dimension. They are nearly indestructible – it is only until one of the last remaining sorcerers figures out a way to create weapons based from their bones that humanity has a chance to fight back. But once the creatures are gone, what is to stop the humans from using these devastating weapons on each other? Young Hadashi works at a dojo learning sword art. He is irresponsible, irrepressible, and a challenge to his Sensei. But that fecklessness causes an accident in which he loses all but two fingers on one hand. Thrown out of the dojo, he is trying to survive when he finds a strange blade. It molds itself to him and seems to have a will of its own – a Kaiju will.
The book has a colorful set of characters and weapons. Reminiscent of Kubo Tite’s Bleach manga, each of the weapons has its own personality, strengths, and ever debilitating drawbacks. It was fun to see all the different Kaiju weapons as well as the different Kaiju themselves. The book has an exuberance of spirit and personality that comes through in every page.
Some of the issues I had with the title is the uneveness of the story and tone as well as a fairly unlikeable hero that everyone adores inexplicably. As well, in this first volume, several important points were never really explained, just dumped out there and then abandoned. That lack of coherency, as well as the somewhat middle grade story and art sprinkled with very adult situations. I would love to have shared this with my 12 year old daughter but there were scenes in there that precluded that – despite the tone feeling so much like a middle school adventure.
So although a mixed bag for me, I did enjoy reading it and give it a 3.5 star rating.
Reviewed from an ARC.