Jan 11, 2011

[Comics] Immortal Weapons

Immortal WeaponsAsian mythologies will always hold a special place in my heart, and I don't say this just because I'm Asian as well. There's a certain sense of style and artistry that you tend to associate with this brand of storytelling that can't quite be matched by their Western counterparts.

Pair it with some of the Asian sensibilities in terms of art styles and that makes things even more fun. And the styles changes whether you're talking about art from Japan versus that from China. There's the visual style that we associate with Thai designs and there's the complex art of India. I'd love to try and capture the descriptions of each art style but I fear my meager words won't do them justice. So just run a Google search or something to get a better idea.

Now when these principles get applied in comics, it's a mix of the good and the bad. I've seem some great ventures that try to copy the style as best as they can but in other instances we end up with amazing pieces that capture the spirit of things amazingly well. One doesn't need to copy things exactly - one just needs to understand the aesthetic and run with that.

Immortal Weapons is a 5-issue limited series written primarily by Duane Swierczynski with various writers contributing to the individual issues. The series focuses on the individual stories of the members of the Immortal Weapons team that has been made popular by the Iron Fist comic. They were originally conceptualized by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja.

Immortal WeaponsImage via WikipediaThe Immortal Weapons are five of the champions of the Capital Cities of Heaven. In terms of Iron Fist lore, they were gathered together to face a common threat to their cities. This mini-series is more of a prequel that tries to reveal more about their individual origin stories or at the very least tales of their past.

The first issue focuses on Fat Cobra as written by Jason Aaron and Duane Swierczynski. Here he has commissioned a researcher to write about his glorious history but his true story isn't quite how he envisioned things.

The second issue is about the Bride of Nine Spiders. As cold and cunning as she is, there is a lot more to her tale and this story gives us a glimpse of her greater story. This issue was written by Duane Swierczynski and Cullen Bunn.

The third issue is the story of Dog Brother #1. This champion of orphans and the lost as found in the Under-City approaches his lore from the perspective of one who seeks to find him and hope to be saved by him. But this eventually leads to much more. It was written by Duane Swierczynski and Rick Spears.

The fourth issue talks about Tiger's Beautiful Daughter. Here were are brought to a land where the men wage war to protect their women but there are things being kept from them by their protectors. It was written by Duane Swierczynski.

The last issue follows the most venerated Prince of Orphans, the man who brought the Immortal Weapons together in the Iron Fist comics. He has been trained to fulfill some great charge but what does he fight for? This issue, as written by Dave Lapham, seeks to tell that story.

Each story was crafted by different teams of writer and artists and yet there's a generally consistent visual style and narrative manner throughout the five issues. They definitely feel like they're all consistently part of the same story, which is no easy feat considering the task they set themselves to. And the art is highly reminiscent of a lot of Chinese storybooks and portraits from their mythological story period.

Each story is distinct from the others and capture the spirit of each of the Immortal Weapons. They're all so different and to think of them as a unified team is pretty intriguing. Even if this only hoped to capitalize on their popularity or maybe drive people to want to read the old Iron Fist comics, then it's pretty successful in that regard. Their compelling stories and the nature of their different personalities is something I'd definitely want to read about. And I say this even if I'm not a big fan of Iron Fist as a character.

Immortal Weapons is a great foray into how Asian mythological sensibilities can be effectively applied in a modern comic book line. The collection gets 4 fantastic feats of martials arts and mysticism out of a possible 5.

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