Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 by David Mack

details
Title: Kabuki.
Volume: 1-2.
Writer(s): David W. Mack.
Artist(s): David W. Mack.
Colourist(s): David W. Mack.
Letterer(s): Steve Stegelin, Joe Martin & David W. Mack.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.

Format
:
Paperback – Omnibus.
Release Date: December 4th, 2019 (first published July 1st, 2015).
Pages: 400.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781506716060.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

Art is a gateway into the mind of a creator. It allows them to express the intangible through a visual medium that is open to interpretation whilst cleverly depending on the viewer’s ability to become one with themselves and their emotions. Amongst all the artists in the modern industry today, there is one that has managed to distinguish himself through a unique artistic style: David W. Mack. With a Sony television series currently in the making, this brand-new 25th-anniversary reprint collects the first two complete volumes of the beloved series (Circle of Blood and Dreams), a prologue by creator Brian Michael Bendis, additional notes and cover art from the creator David W. Mack, an afterword by comics legend Jim Steranko, and a commentary by Takashi Hattori.

What is Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 about? In Circle of Blood, the story introduces us to an alternate neo-future Japan. While being a law-enforcing television personality, a woman called Kabuki is the face of an underground organization known as “The Noh”, an agency that is under the control of the General and responsible of establishing the balance between crime (old Yakuza Lords) and order/politics (legislative bodies). She is also burdened with a desire for revenge upon the Yakuza boss, Ryuchi Kai, who is tied to a terrible tragedy that was bestowed upon her mother. As a member of the deadly assassins that constitute the Circle of the Noh, she thus eliminates targets upon orders from the council while fueling the flame within her that craves to one day face the devil of her nightmares. In Dreams, the story explores the afterlife through memories, hallucinations, and dreams.

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Sit down. Relax. Let your mind unwind in search of tranquility and bliss. Unveiling a familiar yet distant universe where peace is a balance maintained through bloodshed, creator David W. Mack presents the origin story of Kabuki by giving us the keys to her past, a past that continues to haunt her to this day while she serves the General, the Circle of the Noh, and the world. Teasing us with snippets of the missions that these assassins of this organization complete routinely, the story continuously circles back to Kabuki as we try and decipher the emotions she revels in by visualizing various memories she possesses of her parents. It is only through the spectacular artwork that her psychological turmoil is truly understood as creator David W. Mack showcases an unexplainable artistic vision that exquisitely captures the soul of the character and her path to self-discovery.

In what can be called an artistic masterpiece, creator David W. Mack extends an invisible hand to the reader to join him on his own journey to exploring the comic book medium. In the first volume titled Circle of Blood, a fully black-and-white artwork is utilized with a completely unconventional structure that demands some acclimating from the reader. Infused with heavy imagery and philosophy, the story constantly revolves around key sequences that are engraved in Kabuki’s mind as we embrace various forms of symbolism attached to them and attempt to understand her life story. With this tale dedicated to her departed mother, it is in the second volume titled Dreams that the style changes dramatically with colours splurging out of every page. Whether its the use of paint or real-life photos in a collage, he revitalizes his series with a brand-new identity that simply promises that Kabuki’s journey is one to be indulged through the eyes and with our hearts.

Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 is an audacious and stunning exploration of visual storytelling as it delivers a tragic tale of revenge through a quest for identity.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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29 comments

    • Yes! David Mack is a phenomenal artist and his Kabuki series promises to be a true visual treat! 😀 Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog, Jee! And yes, absolutely. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and am one of those people who will always vouch for them within literature circles. They have so much to offer to a reader, especially those who don’t want to crack open a huge book with too many words! 😛 I also highly enjoy adult fantasy, science-fiction, and classics! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Well Lashaan I can say that I totally agree with you on the art and the blurb also seems very promising. I love learning the backstory of heroes!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I read Kabuki a few years ago, and I remember loving it. Not necessarily the story, although it wasn’t bad, but the aesthetics… it simply looks great. It’s one of the comics that. to me, are more art than story, and good because of that – and usually I’m heavily concentrated on the script. It might be a delightful TV Series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely with you there, Piotrek. I think it’s a real visual story rather than one that is explored through narration and dialogues. I too am curious for the TV series and hope that it won’t be one of those Ghost in the Shell live-action attempts! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve been interested in Noh Dancing ever since I watched the anime Gasaraki, so this comic sounds like it has some real hooks for me. Once our library opens up I’ll have to see if they have this or any of the series…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s definitely interesting to hear! I’d be curious to see what you’d think of it. I have to warn you that the heart of this story lies in the artwork more than the words spoken, although the flowery prose filled with imagery is a delight in itself. The lettering follows the artstyle and I think it can get quite hectic in volume 2. You’ll have to inevitably focus more on what’s shown on each page to even be able to follow what’s going on in the story hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m very glad to hear you enjoyed this, Lashaan. Knowing you’d be reading it I just finished a reread of Circle of Blood, and will continue rereading all the volumes. I absolutely love these stories and the artwork and how it all meshes together into something different than typical comics (which I also enjoy). What did you think of the transition in art style? When I was first introduced to the series my comic store owner gave me one of the latter, full-color volumes to read first, then he started me down the series from the beginning after he’d hooked me. So when I saw the first volume was black and white it was a bit of a shock to me, though I was quickly hooked by it. I’m curious your perspective where you’re coming at it in order. I was also fascinated the first volume was actually written in college as part of his senior thesis. If I were stranded on a desert island and had to pick a small selection of books to have with me I’d want this entire collection to be a part of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank YOU for giving me that extra push into prioritizing this one sooner rather than later. I need to get my hands on the other new omnibuses as they release too. It’s such a beautiful artistic project that makes for a wonderful change from the usual comics/graphic novels out there.

      So interesting that you got through this in a different order. I think going through it chronologically allowed for a fascinating transition that in fact gives us an idea of David Mack’s emotional status as he developed these. You could tell that his own loss of his mother could be felt through Kabuki’s attachment to her mother. The sudden use of colours and a whole different art style in volume 2 also goes perfectly well with the story (as she “dies” and explores her attachment to her mother even more, giving her new purpose and meaning to her life).

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  • I’ve always wondered what this is about. I have Kabuki, Vol. 1 on my shelves. I bought it because of the illustration style. I agree it’s unique. I’m also glad you’ve rated it highly as well because I was a little unsure about it. I look forward to reading it. I seriously need to have a month of nothing but comic books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think volume 2 is an even more stunning visual treat too. So, if you are intrigued enough by what the first volume offers, I think you’ll be stunned by the change of style in volume 2. 😉 Hope you get the chance to try it out soon!

      Like

        • Oh. 😮 I probably won’t be the one recommending you to read volume 2 before volume 1 though hahah Some have done that but I guess you’ll have to remain open-minded regarding the series’ story to do it like that hahah Otherwise, I hope you get your hands on volume 1 someday soon!

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          • Lol it’s not my style at all. I’m thinking maybe the comic book shop I went only had this volume. I’ll surely read the first one first.

            Liked by 1 person

  • I absolutely love the artwork of this! I liked the black and white pages but the colourful ones are probably my favourites! The story sounds really interesting too! 😍 Great review, Lashaan 😘

    Liked by 1 person

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