Writer(s): David W. Mack.
Artist(s): David W. Mack.
Colourist(s): David W. Mack.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Format: Paperback – Omnibus.
Release Date: March 4th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.
Previously in the Kabuki Omnibus collection:
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 by David Mack.
The mind is a complex terrain. It is a curious amalgam of cognitive processes constantly expanding with time and maturity. It is through an interaction with the exterior, the physical, and the tangible world that we discover the latent effects on the interior, the intimate, and the immaterial world. There is no universal framework that breaks down the capacity of the mind, but there is an ephemeral yet immortal connection established in a surreal context between individuals who have experienced subtle forms of mania. Through a psychoanalytical and personal exploration of visual story-telling, creator David Mack offers us Kabuki as the vessel for our minds to converge and connect in a tale brimming of self-actualization. This second omnibus collects Kabuki (Vol. 4): Skin Deep and Kabuki (Vol. 5): Metamorphosis in one place and presents fans with the opportunity to read the story as originally-conceived by creator David Mack without having to split them between different publishers.
What is Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 about? Picking up where the story was left off in the previous omnibus, Kabuki, an assassin for a clandestine government known as “The Noh”, lingers between life and death with her mind tethered to reality only by a weakly beating heart and a link to her departed mother accessed through memories, dreams, and illusions. It is the sudden arrival of agents of an institution for “defective” agents, the Control Corps, that allows her to be saved before she could ever witness her final moments. Unfortunately, it comes with a price, one that promises a psychologically-devastating isolation that will send her down a path filled with introspection, self-discovery, and rebirth. Distressed and unable to distinguish reality from hallucination, her solace is only found in a mysterious woman, known as Akemi, who communicates with her through handwritten notes folded into origami animals.
“I will have to make a friend of horror and use it like the beauty of my mask for if horror is not your friend, it is your enemy. And I have enough enemies.” — David Mack
Leave it to creator David Mack to go beyond the standards established in comic books and deliver one of the most dazzling, exquisite, and immersive stories in Kabuki’s journey. Drawing upon Western psychoanalysis theorems and blending them to Japanese folklore and culture, he dives deep into the psyche of his character and explores her destruction of barriers between reality and illusion. Through a tale of attachment to a loss maternal figure, he focuses on Kabuki’s search for comfort and unconditional love as he introduces us to a brand-new enigmatic character whose identity flickers between a figment of Kabuki’s imagination, a spy desperate to gain and abuse her trust, and an assassin biding her time for information before the kill. It is their interconnection and the development of a bond that transcends their existence that ultimately makes for a stellar character study.
While the narrative bathes in the suspense surrounding the Noh agents attempt to find and assassinate Kabuki, it is her character’s psychological trauma and development that serves as the driving force of this odyssey. Exploring the internal conflicts that she battles due to her inter-familial history, the artwork is where creator David Mack exposes a mind-bending representation of psychedelic chaos, despair, and innocence. If there’s anything that needs to be said about his artwork it is the immersive quality of his distorted style. Pouring his soul into his work, he achieves masterful watercolour story-telling that mixes and mashes a mosaic of styles to achieve this singular masterpiece. You simply don’t need to dissect the meticulous details of his work but let yourself feel the emotions conveyed by his work as it grabs you by the collar and sends you on a trip into Kabuki’s intimacy.
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 is an unorthodox, ambitious, ingenious, intimate, and unparalleled visual and literary experience imbued in themes of identity and isolation.