King of Eden (Vol. 1) by Takashi Nagasaki

details
Title: King of Eden.
Volume: 1.
Writer(s)Takashi Nagasaki.
Illustrator(s)Ignito.
Translator(s): Caleb D. Cook.
Letterer(s): Abigail Blackman.
PublisherYen Press.
Format: Digital Copy.
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020.
Pages: 384.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
ISBN13: 9781975306243.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

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.


EXHIBITA
Thank you to Yen Press for sending me a copy for review!

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26 comments

  • Well, I got really excited for this one, especially after reading the premise. But then reading further I got less excited. Character development is something I usually always think of as important and well the way you describe it here is something that I would have trouble with. That said, looking at the art, and some of the strengths that you mentioned further on, this still is one that I think that overall I could still enjoy. This one is a maybe for me! Thanks for sharing!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too was superbly intrigued, especially when he co-wrote Monster (I know you’re a fan of that one too!). I’m hoping that the second volume will have much more depth added to these characters though. At least it’s still loads of fun! Thanks for reading, Michel! 😁

      Like

  • So, if the artist is korean, does that make this manwha and not manga? Or is it the lead creator who determines which it is? I’m not a fan of the manwha style, but then, I’ve only experienced 2 series, so I’m not exactly an expert. But with the virus angle, this is one I can’t see appealing to me anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Focusing on facial expressions for cell frames in a comic is a bit disturbing and boring at the same time. I recently reviewed a comic hard back for Stephen King’s The Stand: Captain Trips Vol 1, and it had some just plain weird facial expressions and to top the other aspects of the cell frames in the comic were not creative enough, in my opinion to give me the escapism feel. Not sure if the artist meant it to be funny, but it just came across as strange and confusing. There are so many ways to be creative in a cell frame of a comic and facial expressions, as we have seen here, probably ain’t it! =D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! To overly focus on them can get so distracting, almost to the point where you forget the creatures in these horror story and get dragged back into reality where you think about human emotions and all too!

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  • The art didn’t call out to me but the premise did. It sounds like it could be such a great story with all the myths we are already aware of. I’m sad to hear that it all didn’t tie in as well as one would expect.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Interesting. I wonder how much collaboration there was between the author and artist and whether the two being from different cultures added anything to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wondered the same! Especially when Koreans also have their own kind of manga called manhwa. But, just with the story here, you can tell that they wanted to really break out of the “Japanese” culture to explore all kinds of regions of the world! 😂

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  • Oh wow. OK so this one can be difficult. On one hand, the art is superb, on the other, it lacked in characterization. So my question to you, my friend – which one would you prefer when reading a manga? Also, please share some of your photography skills! How did you take those beautiful pictures without any sort of reflection on it?! Mine sucks, big time! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’ll always be a story/character-first kind of guy. Any GOOD writing can make any art seem good! 😉 And it being a visual medium, it’s important to me that the best comics/manga/etc strive to tell amazing stories/characters alongside the artwork, which could also help a lot to tell the story! 😂 Yours don’t suck! 😂 Pictures of my tablet are harder to take because of the brightness of the tablet, making everything a bit more blurry, you’ll probably have to adjust the settings so your camera doesn’t focus and compensate for the wrong kinds of lighting! 😂 Otherwise, a lot of post-editing explains the final result too! 😜

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  • It had me at “international conspiracies and terrifying zombies viruses” lol! Also, I like the illustrations. I’ll add it to my TBR. Sounds like it could be a good TV show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It definitely has a great idea behind it. Remains to be seen if the next two volumes will deliver a much more cohesive story and if those will allow the characters to be developed too! Thanks for reading, Zezee! 😀

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  • Ooh this looks cool. I’m trying to read more Manga and I’m discovering I like horror Manga versus the cutesy Manga. I just finished the first volume of Berserk and I liked that a lot too. I’ll have to look into this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes, it was only last year that I rekindled my own love for manga and have been revisiting classics since, having completed both Bleach and Death Note so far. Berserk is one that I plan to review soon too! I’m really glad to hear that it worked so well for you though. 😀

      Like

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