raineffect's Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 - Part One: Deadlier Than The Male review

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Wow. Let me begin by telling you how impressed I am by this issue. I don't read Spiderman. Before I read this, I couldn't care less about the Spider-Island arc. I saw the score that was given by Matt and I decided to pick it up at my weekly comic store run.

Let me tell you; I now care about the Spider-Island arc. All thanks to this issue.

You know the drill; I don’t talk about the plot. Let’s start with the most striking thing from the first page of this book: the artwork. Who is Sebastian Fiumara and why have I never heard of him? His style is that of a gritty, pencil-shade etiquette and immediately sets the stage for the story. My biggest fear with Spider-man related stories is that they are for kids. Let’s face it, Spiderman is more associated with little kids than those who pay attention to the quality of a story. Oh how I was promptly corrected. From Shang Chi jumping from wall to wall, to the sketches of the city, this artwork is stunning. What is odd is that it isn’t the same ‘stunning’ I am used to, such as the work of Sanada Takeda. By stunning, it makes me stop and immerse myself in the landscape. It’s a comic book, I know, but roll with me. Just like how literature takes you away with poetic descriptions, so can graceful artwork. The artwork of this book is definitely the highest point.

One trait this book has is the quirky, mid-narration, depictions of Shang Chi’s fighting. Shang will be narrating, and right in the middle of it, a box will break your attention naming the move he is in the process of executing. Johnston even goes so far to name the moves of the antagonist of this story, giving the style great contrast to the names of Shang’s moves. Of all the names, my favourite is the ‘Dragon and Tiger move as one’. This is a brilliant technique that is a nice breath of fresh air from the typical comic read. The fighting is wicked; as one would expect from a book centring on two masters of martial arts. Johnston should be commended on introducing this quirky technique, and I sincerely hope it continues through the coming issues.

The writing is well-executed. I have noticed a few members have criticised the way Shang Chi speaks, claiming it is stereotypical of an Asian martial artist. One must not forget how Shang was raised and the people he has grow up with and been mentored to. He respects his elders and does not speak with slang. A trait of a talented writer is to distinguish two friends by their contrasting dialects. Johnston did this perfectly with Danny and Shang. Danny is the sarcastic, casual warrior and Shang is the respectful and disciplined monk. It’s a great mixture and creates brilliant juxtaposition. Without spoiling anything, I will tell you that the ending of this will considerably surprise you. It definitely caught me off guard and I am now eager for the next issue.

In closing, this is a must read for anyone in need of a break from the conventional super-hero antics. If you’re sick of machines, mutants and metahumans and are looking for some artistic and graceful fighting supported by the grandeur of excellent writing, I highly recommend you pick up Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu; you won’t be disappointed.
This has been a review by RainEffect. If you have any questions, disagreements or just want to share your opinions, comment here, on my wall or send me a message.

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