Sword Master #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like Aero before it, Sword Master is the latest in a new line of manga inspired Marvel titles. Unlike Aero, Master is less of a straight superhero adventure and more like a fantasy epic where a young man goes out in search of his father, and it creates a pretty interesting tale from Greg Pak, Shuizu, and artist Gunji.
Lin Lie’s father is missing. All that he has left from his dad is a mysterious sword that seems to be the cause of some very real nightmares. Desperate for answers, Lie hunts down some of his father’s old acquaintances and gets some information on his father’s last known whereabouts. But before he can embark on that new adventure, a mysterious delivery man arrives with another package, and something tells Lie that this new package isn’t going to be good.
Greg Pak and Shiuzu’s script has tons of weird fantasy sequences, and reads a lot like a Marvel version of a Manga story (not that I’ve read much Manga). Lie is definitely ripped from the Joseph Campbell playbook, but this story beat works really well for an opening issue, and though I would’ve liked having a few more action sequences to liven the book up a little, there’s still enough in this issue to keep me intrigued.
If Pak and Shiuzu’s script makes you think of Manga, then Gunji’s art will absolutely sell you on the book. His art is pretty spectacular, able to move between the styles of Manga and modern American comic art with ease, and his opening pages depicting Lie’s dreams are a thing of beauty. Whether or not this new initiative from Marvel works, it’ll be interesting to see what Gunji will do next.
Sword Master‘s debut issue is pretty intriguing, and it definitely surprised me with how solid it was. As someone who has only read a very few Manga series, Sword Master is an easily accessible entry point for both Manga fans coming the Marvel, and Marvel fans trying out a new series set in their universe.