April 17, 2009
Now, the good thing about this volume is that the story is getting a bit more developed. Instead of the short monster-of-the-day-type stories from before, one story fills this volume and actually runs into volume three. It’s a good story too, where an old assistant shows up at the studio and Da-Il winds up sharing a room with him and somehow getting sucked into his past in the alternate dimension of the story. This story also has a lot less of the weird fighting and stuff from the first volume. I liked that it backed off the weird stuff, just because it’s probably better that I have some time to digest all that stuff, and it’s better that it comes slowly in nice stories like this rather than all at once in shorter stories.
On the other hand, there’s no effort to explain absolutely anything here. We’ve still got an older woman and a younger woman that look like they are controlling things for Da-Il, we’ve still got Mu-Huk running around (kept from Da-Il this time by, uh, Judas, who’s stronger because he’s famous), and, well, Mu-Huk isn’t running around, actually, because he’s sealed in a box in the night sky. I don’t know. While I don’t want this stuff all at once, it would be nice if I could have at least a little peek at what some of it means.
Plus… well, it’s very much a shounen manga. Friends stand up for friends, they go for what they believe in, and the fight scenes between Mu-Huk and Judas are pretty standard fare. Aside from the bizarre and mysterious Dead Zone mechanic, and the fact that it’s got a weird meta thing going on where the artist Ho Go is drawing a comic starring Da-Il doing all the things he’s doing in the Dead Zone… well, actually, that sounds pretty awesome, and it is. The problem is the generic flavor of the actual meat of the series. Perhaps it will shake itself of this in a couple more volumes as things become more clear, though.
The end to the volume is pretty epic and kind of sad, though, and it does leave off in a pretty awesome place for volume 3.
December 22, 2008
This is another series that’s been sitting around for months waiting for me to get around to it. I picked it up on sale a long time ago for the interesting-sounding premise.
I didn’t quite understand all of what was going on from the basic plot summary, and even after having read it, I’m still not sure that I can adequately describe what’s going on. Da-Il decides that he would like to draw comics in order to make people laugh and forget their problems, and gives such a passionate speech on the subject that he is taken in as a live-in assistant when he knows absolutely nothing about making comics or drawing. When he moves into the house, however, he finds himself being drawn into a “Dead Zone” where a mysterious man slays ghosts and then ends the zone and throws Da-Il back into the real world. Da-Il is a “croquer,” apparently someone who draws both the ghosts and the settings for these Dead Zones, and these strange situations are being fed to the artist he works for by the mysterious man, so Da-Il is the main character in a comic as well as a “croquer” in real life. If that makes any sense. There’s some sort of mysterious neighbor connection too, the person who may or may not be in charge of the Dead Zone, so I assume we’ll learn more about that in time, too.
I absolutely loved the gimmick about the kid wanting nothing more than to draw comics to make people happy and then becoming a comic character off and on. He’s got a good enough reason for doing what he does, and he also enjoys speaking to the ghosts and finding out their problems… even if the mysterious man is mostly out to destroy the ghosts. Da-Il’s lessons on drawing techniques come in handy in the Dead Zone, too, and as he picks up more artistic skills, it seems like he’ll have more power as a croquer. The first Dead Zone activity was simply stick figures in a white background. It doesn’t explain how the characters get to looking like real people and places without Da-Il having any drawing skills, but I’m sure more things will be explained later.
It’s biggest weakness is that it’s an action comic about being an action comic. I feel like some of the broad strokes used to paint the characters and action are perhaps intentional, but the fact that the story is mostly action interspersed with a few personal stories for the ghosts made it kind of a bland read that lacked details. For instance, the main character is literally everything you could expect from a shounen manga hero. That’s exactly what he is, and it’s actually kind of funny, since one of the first things he does is give a shounen manga hero speech. But it’s not so funny that he stays a bit generic after that. He’s an interesting enough character that I’m not too worried about getting to like him, but I am sort of worried about the episodic nature of the series that seems to have been established in this volume.
As a side note, this is the most Japanese-looking Korean comic I think I’ve seen. It looks very much like something that ran in Gangan. Perhaps that’s just because I’ve never seen a Korean comic for younger boys, most of the series I’ve read have been aimed at teen girls.
I’ve got the second volume already, but it’s got an interesting enough premise that I’ll stick around for at least a few volumes to see if it cures itself of its bizarre blandness.