Writer(s): David W. Mack.
Artist(s): David W. Mack.
Colourist(s): David W. Mack.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Format: Paperback – Omnibus.
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020 (First Published July 16th, 2016).
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Kabuki Omnibus collection:
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 by David Mack.
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 by David Mack.
Imagine being born from a tragedy. Imagine growing up numb to life’s beauty, becoming part of a manipulative governmental system with no prospect of ambition or happiness. Imagine going full circle to try and end your suffering. Imagine embracing a newfound friendship following your intimate connection with loneliness. Imagine being given a chance to be reborn into the person you wished you were. What do you do? Collecting the nine-issue story-arc of Kabuki: The Alchemy, originally published under the Icon Comics imprint over at Marvel in 2008, this latest omnibus also includes an introduction by writer Chuck Palahniuk, after-notes from creator David Mack, additional stories (Prometheus Untold, Lil Kabuki, Fourth Mind, and more), letters from fans that helped shape up the creation of this story-arc as each issue was being released, and behind-the-scenes content on the creative process by creator David Mack.
What is Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 3 about? Kabuki: The Alchemy follows Kabuki, an ex-assassin for a clandestine government known as “The Noh”, now having escaped from the grasps of an institution for “defective” agents known as the Control Corps. Now friends with a mysterious figure known as Akemi during those trying times, she is now offered a chance at embracing a new life, one that is free from the burden of her horrible past, if only she is able to look past the scars left upon her. As she learns to let go, she discovers a new mask in the form of stories, while also meeting two new faces within the Akemi network, prompting her forward towards her own transformation.
“There is no limit to what one can achieve, as long as one is willing to give someone else the credit.”
— David Mack
Despite being the final Kabuki story to be published, the story within this omnibus is chronologically set after the events that transpired in the previous omnibus reprint and continue to explore Kabuki’s identity and her transformation. Creator David Mack focuses heavily on themes of identity once again but looks to narratively deviate a bit more to channel some of his own love and passion for story-telling through metaphysical events. In fact, this story-arc is a reminder to stay true to yourself, to find your purpose through your internal motivations without the external influences of life through pressures formed in society, by people or media. It also serves as a eulogy to art, especially literature, by showcasing creator David Mack’s own creative journey and experience within Kabuki’s adventure. From stories within stories to an autobiographical self-insertion (author surrogate), the story ultimately feels like a stream of consciousness rather than a traditional narrative structure.
Of course, how can one even expect anything set within the confines of conventionality when it comes to creator David Mack. His Kabuki stories have always been his ultimate creative license, his own magical playground where he can unleash his inner creative beast as he experiments with styles of visual and narrative storytelling. Once again, this volume is another exclamation mark on his incredible artwork, displaying a mind-boggling and surreal artistic mosaic for readers to scrutinize and discover for themselves. Mastering watercolour while blending it with various other media, from photography to collage, his style is unforgivingly astonishing and exquisite, unquestionably sending readers on a trance that they never knew they needed as they share Kabuki’s evolution. Although saddening to know, the final omnibus, containing Masks of Noh (Volume 3) and Scarab, Lost in Translation (Volume 6), is planned for release on December 28th, 2021, but the wait will no doubt be rewarding.
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 3 is an exquisite, monumental, experimental, and hypnagogic tale of rebirth through self-discovery and acceptance.