Author: KwangHyun Seo
Manhwa-ga: JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: January 2009
Synopsis: “There are dark forces at work that seek to manipulate the young croquer Da-Il for theri own ends. When he and his friends are held hostage on the subway in the Dead Zone, Da-Il learns more about the fuel for his croquis from a mysterious croquer with a camera. But not all teachers have benevolent motives . . . and, as Da-Il discovers, some are downright deadly.”
Tearing off where the previous volume ended, this third volume of Croquis Pop wastes no time in showcasing some dramatic one-sided battle scenes to its reader, giving a glimpse at the untapped powers lurking under the manhwa-ga student, Da-Il. Unbeknownst to him, he continues to a big part of someone else’s plans, and while this volume doesn’t expand too much on the fact, it does offer a different look at some familiar faces and the introduction of another Croquer who could very well be friend or foe.
Somewhat to my inevitable dismay, this volume returned its focus to the super powers and strange worlds of the Dead Zone and Croquers. While I think I understand Da-Il’s growing abilities a little more, there’re still a lot of aspects about it that confuse me. So because he’s a comic book Croquer, Da-Il can draw and erase objects, of varying power based on his emotions, in these Dead Zones, which are manifestations of a person’s grudge. While stuff like this becomes easier to follow, I’ve yet to get a good grasp of what the apparent antagonist of the story is really after and thus far have deemed them evil based more on their creepy wide-faced smile than any concrete fact I’ve managed to put together.
The introduction of a new Croquer was interesting, with his powers revolving around photography instead of comic books like Da-Il. While his camera-finger attacks are spiffy, they failed to be as entertaining as watching someone fight with a giant exacto-knife or handle a train-top scene with quite the same amount of cunning. Da-Il’s use of comic knowledge makes for some memorable moments that are, despite their often dramatic execution, pretty cheesy, but then ultimately all the more fun.
As another quality press by Yen Press, readers will be greeted by a shiny foldout, full-colour illustration when they open the book, after taking some time to stare at the awesome cover image. Looking back at some of their older releases and comparing it to this one reminds me how far Yen has come with its gutter and text placement, which were always quips I’d bring up in older reviews, but are now a thing of the past. All the text and sound effects are well-handled in this book, all with enough care taken that they look like they should belong there and don’t detract from the story with any lopsided placements or awkward overlays.
While I still have a lot to understand about this series and its characters, I’ve gotten pretty attached to Da-Il’s weird abilities and the entertaining comic/manhwa references. I find this quick-paced series to be entertaining enough to guarantee I’ll stick with it a while longer yet which will hopefully reward me with a nice breakdown of what the heck is really going on. At the very least, it continues to be a visual treat with JinHo Ko’s strong art style only getting more exciting and continuing to well-render all the parts of the story that I’ve come to like thus far. Here’s to some fun future volumes of Croquis Pop (and a few less questions)!