Title: King of Eden.
Writer(s): Takashi Nagasaki.
Translator(s): Caleb D. Cook.
Letterer(s): Abigail Blackman.
Publisher: Yen Press.
Format: Digital Copy.
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
The deadliness of a virus is not unknown to man. Their characteristic lethality has made them one of mankind’s greatest threat. For it to fundamentally change a human being into an unrecognizable monster would simply make life a living nightmare for many. But how do you stop such madness before it steers us rapidly to our end? How far would we go to expunge the world of its existence before we suffer a faith too fatal for our own good? Japanese mangaka Takashi Nagasaki (also known as the co-author to Naoki Urusawa, the very two creators behind Monster, 20th Century Boys, and Pluto) teams up with Korean artist SangCheol Lee (also known under his pseudonym Ignito) to form a collective creative force for a brand-new horror series filled with international conspiracies and terrifying zombies viruses.
What is King of Eden (Vol. 1) about? The story follows the sudden and odd occurrence of entire villages being engulfed in flames around the world. While most of it is burned to ashes, one enigmatic Korean man always stands tall, alive, and unaffected, and manages to escape the scene before anyone could catch him. While that takes place, rumours of an incredibly ruthless and contagious virus originating from the tales of Cain and Abel emerge among countless agencies from various nations as a fear grows amongst them that this virus might be weaponized by ill-intentioned terrorist organizations. As they try to piece together this mystery that seems to hint at a powerful virus from several millenniums ago, they quickly realize that what they might be looking for is of a supernatural order and that the faith of humanity might be doomed if they don’t unravel this mystery quickly.
“Twelve robbers robbed so much, they turned into beasts. Thirteen beasts emerged from the ground, oh dear. Thirteen beasts fought over the takings and slew one another dead.”
— Takashi Nagasaki
The premise at the heart of this horror story gravitates around a mysterious phenomenon linked to many European mythologies, from the Persian Empire to Russia. While it shows that mangaka Takashi Nagasaki makes an effort to ground his creatures in some researched historical context, the mishmash deters the reader from being anchored in a plausible world. This patchwork also seems to run as a common theme as the good guys end up being an aggregation of various agencies from around the world that enjoy pointing fingers at each other’s organizational flaws too. While it’s fun to make this a globe-trotting tale, it quickly dilutes the story’s potential. The story also suffers from its lack of character development, on top of not seeming to know what it wants to tell. From an abundance of repetition to irrelevant sequences with obnoxiously expendable characters, the only intrigue that keeps this story afloat lies in the mystery behind the hive mind that might be at play.
While the story does suffer from the usual flaws found in the horror genre, it isn’t entirely without strengths. In fact, a lot of its narrative and characterization flaws are relatively compensated by its stunning artwork. Artist Ignito does a phenomenal job in bringing to life stunning character designs with a decently detailed backdrop that gives off a general depressive atmosphere where danger could be lurking anywhere, ready to pounce upon innocent and oblivious victims at a moment’s notice. While the first couple of pages benefit from colouring, most of the volume is in a traditional black-and-white artwork that naturally conveys the horror tone. Artist Ignito does, however, focus heavily on facial expressions, often allocating many panels to focus on their reactions. Despite this sometimes awkward fetish, he does an excellent job in drawing the horror elements without giving away too much, allowing it to be one of the rare hooks that will make readers want to stick around for this trilogy.
King of Eden (Vol. 1) is an intriguing yet flawed international horror-thriller elevated by poignant artwork.