Manhwa-ga: JinJun Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: October 2012
Synopsis: “Chris succeeds in getting the information he needs about Crossline from Area 51, but he is trapped in an underground bunker when an EMP shuts down its electrical systems. While he struggles to escape before the oxygen runs out, Irel and Lamia dive deeper into their search of the Blood of Christ… but the answer they have been looking for might not bring the results they’d hoped.”
JinJun Park’s Raiders has reached its penultimate chapter, giving to readers a parcel that continues its mix of glossy action, impeccable line work and wacky religious plot lines. Combining Christian mythology with all manner of undead creatures and conspiracy-theory madness, Park’s Raiders is still a fairly light and fun action series that occasionally cuts a bit deeper than its polished surface. It’s been awhile since I last visited Irel and Lamia, but their mission to solve their undead reality continues to be a fascinating journey. Moving her pawns into their assorted places, Parker delivers an action packed volume that reveals more of what has caused this story’s world to be full of crazed would-be messiahs.
While Raiders doesn’t have as many horrific moments as series like Hellsing or Berserk, it’s not a series for the easily offended. Lamia’s zombie status leads to an occasional corpse munching, and Irel’s immortality leads to a casual, almost comedic temporary beheading in another sequence. Park’s swift storytelling moves along with these moments though, and doesn’t dwell on them long. Yet the religious themes stand out more as the wackier aspect. Where else would you find multiple sinister organizations, countries and an assortment of human and undead mercenaries battling over the literal blood of Jesus? Given Korea’s large Christian population, it’s a little surprising, yet makes for a more fascinating take than the more shallow aspects of Christianity that pop up in Japanese titles. Crosses aren’t just a trendy decoration in Raiders, as biblical figures like Mary Magdalene and the disciples factor into the plot. Another surprise occurs when Lamia’s counterpart super-zombie arrives, whose identity readers of Drifters might recognize.
Park’s art is still a highlight. While in earlier volumes, the printing of lines seemed a bit thin in places, Yen Press’s presentation looks sharper on this volume. Perhaps Park adjusted her inking to better suit smaller paperbacks with these chapters, but either way the art really shines in this installment. Deep, shadowy blacks compliment sparse, efficient use of cross hatching and screen tones, complimenting her excellent action scenes. Park could get by like many artists and let us appreciate her pleasant character designs, but instead chooses to take us for a ride, including several movement heavy action sequences this volume. When tacky fan service rears its head – such as when a bikini clad member of Irel’s crew takes on an assassin/nurse in a hospital – one initially suspects a cheesy cat fight. Instead Park delivers a solid sequence as her heroine moves the combat outside the hospital, several stories up, and turns it into a badass midair showdown.
Juggling characters across continents, Park delivers some excellent backgrounds in Irel and Lamia’s artic adventure, while sending snarky detective Chris on what seems like a kamikaze mission. The disaster surrounding Chris’s escape is another spectacular sequence. Canadian fans will be delighted to know Park’s globetrotting involves psychopathic immortal Ian communing with his Canadian disciples while Lamia and Irel enjoy a snowy North Pole.
Yen Press’s presentation is fairly consistent with their other manga and manwha. As with earlier volumes, a colour insert is included as the title page. Although it lacks character art, it’s a nice touch, and compliments the gorgeous wrap around cover. Park includes a few comic strips of the “cartoonist joking around with assistants” variety, and Yen Press includes their usual double subtitled sound effect translations, which uses both romanized and literal translations for the unaltered Korean sound effects.
Fans seem to often overlook manwha, and they lack the fandom buzz of mainstream manga releases and their flashy anime tie-ins. With many manwha publishers closing up shop, Yen Press’s continued release of titles is appreciated. They give us something different from Japanese manga, familiar yet free of many of its trends. Raiders would have strong appeal to fans of Zombie comics, while also reaching a bit broader due to its slightly less gory approach. One looks forward to seeing how the assorted plot lines converge in the finale. Parks looks to be heading to a fantastic conclusion. So long as one doesn’t mind the occasional dismembering, blood splatter, or slightly sacrilegious reference, Raiders is a solid effort that fans who’d like to sample what action manwha has to offer should check out.
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Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes