Manga-ka: JinJun Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: March 2010
Synopsis: “Now that the terror of their first meeting has subsided, Irel begins to wonder if his fear of Lamia is unfounded. Despite her troubling diet, she doesn’t seem to relish gnawing Irel’s flesh any more than he does. Both share a common goal: to uncover the mysteries surrounding the blood of Christ. If they work together, they might be able to find the answers they seek. But traveling as a pair might only serve to make them a bigger target for even greater terrors…”
Having found some enjoyment in the mildly controversial first volume, I quickly downed the second instalment of Park’s religious zombie action manwha. It continues to be a fairly light, fast-paced comic, but continues to insert visually striking tidbits that help it stand out from other similar fare. Slick and occasionally startling, the excellent art and mild amounts of gore bring Raiders above what you might expect.
After a fairly brutal fight concluding the last volume’s battle, a major shift occurs as cutesy Clarion defects to Irel and Lamia’s side as some disturbing elements of her past, and her true nature, come forward. A more personable character than Lamia, and free of her food preferences, Clarion emerges as a different viewpoint for the readers, with Irel’s intent still remaining unclear. Lamia and Irel make for an interesting duo as Raiders continues to frame them as normal teenagers before assaulting readers with yet more scenes of Lamia taking a short snack off the now-immortal Irel. Clarion serves as a foil to the grumpier Lamia, though one hopes Park avoids creating a harem setup.
The cast continues to be expanded upon – even the Professor’s daughter gets involved in the conspiracy as Chris contacts her to hunt for more information, adding a side plot to Lamia and Irel’s journey. While Lamia and Irel calmly continue their research, Grace is stalked by government agents, who prove to be just as much of a threat as the undead. The constant chase scene of first volume is continued as Grace evades her would-be-killers, who provide a third faction with an interest in the departed Prof. Langhiem’s work. While a government conspiracy is a bit of a cliché, it’s a minor concern as these scenes help keep mix up the pace of the book. I liked how Park opted for quick cut scenes, shifting back and fourth between Grace/Chris, Irel/Lamia and the mysterious church Clarion escaped from. Sometimes this can seem a bit much, but I felt this aspect was handled well.
Parks art continues to be a highlight for me, with some inventive designs as Clarion’s replacements emerge from the family church. The bespectacled young boy Ian sets out a duo of cat girl lycanthropes after the trio, but a more interesting antagonist emerges as the Priest’s bishonen underling heads to the Church’s cellars to find a new creature, a zombie who is composed entirely of bones, in a sharp suit, which makes for a fascinating visual – a darker version of Jack Skellington. The visually compelling nature of Park’s art emerges in scenes such as this, otherworldly with it’s wispy, contrasted inks and deep shadows. It’s a stylized look that provides a distinct atmosphere that elevates it above the usual generic anime-friendly designs we usually see. Raiders continues to be like a prettier, less gory take on Hellsing, with only sporadic moments of insanity.
Speaking of said sporadic moments, the book ends yet again on a cliff hanger and the promise of action from these new foes. In place of the previous volume’s option to stop in the middle of the action, the second collection instead rests itself on a fairly major image of Irel, Albert and Lamia coming across a major revelation. What is up with what they find in the chamber? How does it relate to Lamia’s centuries old origins? Will new pal Dr.Albert meet the horrific fate of previous academics, or will his higher academic standing involve useful fighting skills? You’re left with lots of questions, and a hope that some answers will be provided in the next volume, as Park leaves us with a decent amount of intrigue to lead into the next instalment.
Yen Press matches it up to the first volume with yet another colour insert using the line art of the cover. They also avoid the errors of their Crimson Shell translation by leaving otaku-isms in Japan, and using proper English for outright British dialogue. Jamie Rich’s rewrite of the translation continues to be fun and feel natural, something I hope Yen Press will consider continuing with other series that have an English-language setting.
I’d recommend Raiders to fans of slick, fluid action comics who don‘t mind slight gore (though will still make note that the religious elements may offend some). Raiders presents itself in a fascinating manner with it’s competent art and more knowledgeable, if not shocking, use of religious symbols, mixed with quieter character moments – a decent option for those looking outside Japanese manga for a change of pace.