It’s easy to get jaded in comics, as like any medium there’s only so many variants on a theme, particularly in action-based comics. So when I received a review copy of Yi Soon Shin, Warrior and Defender, I was expecting more of the same. I’m pleased to say I was very much proven wrong, with this trade of the first four issues of the series a solid and engaging read.
The scope of the story is nothing short of an outright war between Korea and Japan in the late 16th Century, and it starts out with one of the great naval battles that occurred. It sets the scene nicely for the political and military intrigues that follow. You’ll want to spend some time reading through the beautifully illustrated and notated background information, to fully appreciate the scope of the events being illustrated.
Onrie Kompan’s writing shows the research he’s put into the topic and really does showcase what a rich part of history he’s drawing from. The dialogue is far from dry and although there are some infrequent parts where the dialogue is a little jarring given the setting, (“Because you fucks are gonna help me murder that son of a bitch” is one example), it doesn’t happen enough to undermine what is a well-written story.
Art-wise, Giovanni Timpano’s work is exemplary – from the more detailed discussions that occur through to the splash pages, it’s quality form start to finish – Adriana De Los Santos’ colours definitely help out in a big way here, with some great work across the board. I struggle to comment much on letterers a great deal of the time, but even Joel Saavedra’s work here helps the book along.
Overall, this is a very high quality, independently produced piece of work that deserves some attention. Stan Lee provides a foreword (I’d love to know the story of how Onrie Kompan pulled that off) and although Stan can tend toward hyperbole (there’s an understatement), the praise he provides for this book is well deserved.
Whether you’re a student of history, a jaded comics reader looking for something meaty or just someone who likes a good story, Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender is definitely worth a look. You can find out more at the book’s website. If you want a more in-depth review, it’s hard to go past Jeff Ritter’s one here as well.