Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender

No sorcery, but plenty of sword in a tale to thrill fans of both S&S and action films. http://www.yisoonshin.com/the-series/

An enemy that cannot be resisted meets a man who cannot be defeated in battle. This is the kind of simple, irresistible premise that pulls the money out of my wallet every time. On the surface, the plot of Yi Soon Shin is a story worthy of Conan. Feudal Japan invades Korea, with such success that the war is nearly over before it begins. Enter Yi Soon Shin, a warrior admiral whose prowess in single battle and as a commander are unmatched. Yi is an interesting character, an uncompromising patriot who refuses to let anything or anyone destroy his country. And as stated before, a military genius and killing machine.

While the Japanese, led by Toyotomi Hideoyoshi, are the invaders, the true villain of the story is a Korean traitor. Baron Seo is a dark character indeed, a moral black hole in which we see no humanity. Everything exists to serve his ends and pleasures, and even his Japanese allies have a healthy fear and distaste for him. Writers David Anthony Kraft and Onrie Kompan have crafted a classic, sleazy villain with motives both comprehensible and abhorrent. Seo is in his own fashion a master strategist, working behind the scenes manipulating people and events. And Seo has a deep and personal reason for hating Yi Soon Shin.

This story is paced like and feels like a big budget action film. The plot moves from set piece to the next like an amusement park thrill ride, but manages to provide enough exposition for the characters to allow you to care about them. Kraft’s background as a past master of the traditional, compressed comics script serves him very well here. For those of you who don’t know, Kraft’s bibliography for Marvel and DC is extensive. (Go look!) The art is gorgeous. Giovanni Paolo Timpano and El Arnakleus are able to meet the considerable demands of the script.

 

If it ssems like I’m just skimming the surface, I am. This is one of those rare comics that you don’t reveal a lot about. You just hand the books to someone and say, “trust me, this is worth your time.” So I will leave it at that. If you love action movies, martial arts films, or classic Conan comics, this is a must read for you. Need another reason? Stan Lee loved it enough to write the introduction to the first hardcover collection for free. And speaking of Lee, and Marvel, and comics in general, this book is significant for another reason. Yi Soon Shin is the first hit comic that the new wave of crowdfunded, independent comics has produced. At the time of this writing, two four issue series are closing in on combined sales of nearly 100 thousand copies. And the final four issue installement (on Kickstarter now, see the link below) is on the way. This puts a crowdfunded, independent comic that is not sold at  your local comic shop in sales territory now common for DC and Marvel. Yi Soon Shin is the first breakout hit of what I think of as the Post-Big Two era.

 

One final word to the reader. If you are also a gamer and a fan of settings like Forgotten Realms, there is much here that can be mined for inspiration. Also worth noting that this book doesn’t pull punches. It’s a hard R rating, perhaps even NC-17. Adults only.

The hardcover collections are some of the biggest bargains in comics right now. Full of bonus material, high quality, and very competitively priced. Go take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

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