December 28, 2011
Mina Hwang – ComicsOne – 2001 – 15 volumes
We finally learn what the name of the series means in this volume! Philaro is the Sun on his world (the emperor, in other words), and his brother is apparently the Sun in his absence. Except his brother isn’t the true Sun, and an imposter Sun is called a Redmoon.
Anyway. The story slows down here, which is a bad thing considering it wasn’t exactly booking it in the first place. I say slow down, but there’s still plenty of action. Philar begins to get attacked by cyborgs at nearly every turn. Said cyborgs are robot copies of his family and everyone in his neighborhood. Random sympathizers on the street that look to be concerned about his injuries are probably robots that are going to blow up in his face. This whole section is like a more extreme version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, especially considering the cyborgs really are aliens.
The problem is that this volume is too much of Philar running and hiding from the cyborg attackers and not enough reveals about who Philaro is, what the people are doing hunting him, and what’s up with the aliens on Earth. What is revealed doesn’t make sense. In one scene, Philaro’s servant takes Lunarena to a mountain pass and shows him the body of Philaro, explaining that Philaro knew that everyone on their ship was going to die, so he transferred his mind into the body of a human, who the servant then killed… except Philar is still alive? I was baffled by this.
We do know quite a bit about the alien race, admittedly. I think Philaro is being hunted because his brother wants to remain the Sun, but then again, Philaro doesn’t seem interested in coming back, so I’m not sure why he has to be killed just yet. Maybe because he still poses a threat? It’s also been hinted he has some future as the emperor of the galaxy or something, so maybe that needs to be prevented, too. But most of this stuff was revealed earlier. There’s not too much about the alien civilization in this volume, and as the most interesting thing this story has going for it, its absence is noticeable. Hopefully things will pick up again next time.
December 24, 2011
Mina Hwang – ComicsOne – 2001 – 18 volumes
I suspect there are a sizable number of fine Korean fantasy comics that have not seen the light of day in English. I also suspect I would be a huge fan of this genre, should it appear. However, Redmoon probably isn’t the best example. It’s kinda…. well, dated. Both art and story-wise. It’s also a little generic, which might also be a product of the age of this series. I’m a big fan of this type of series, and the art, so this is right up my alley. I suspect it might not be wirth the hunt for most people, though.
I still like the mix of fantasy and contemporary settings. Philar is still struggling with regaining his memories as Philaro, the “Sun” and ruler of a distant planet. Lunarena is still trying to help him along. Philar seems to be… well, of two minds about this whole thing. He spends half his time as Philar, normal high school student, and half his time as Philaro, tough-guy deposed ruler. Philaro’s memories usually elude Philar, and he’s not aware of his other half, but he does get the physical benefits of being some sort of alien.
What all this leads up to is a big fight between some robots, a man dressed in some flowing robes, some sort of street punk, and Lunarena, an alien. This fight involves knives, lasers, and bombs, and it takes place in what appears to be downtown Seoul. It’s not quite as crazy as that description implies, but it’s strange enough.
This is still a lot of exposition. It’s been a while since I’ve read volume one, but it feels like characters are still being introduced and we’re still trying to figure out Philaro’s family situation. That’s just fine. The English edition does stop early, but I suspect the story will be well underway when it happens.
And… I don’t have much additional insight aside from that. It’s following the story I described quite closely, and there’s not a whole lot of depth, plot or character-wise right now. But it’s getting there, and I like this type of series, so I’m willing to wait it out.
January 12, 2010
Mina Hwang – ComicsOne – 2001 – 18 volumes
the English version is incomplete at volume 6
There are a strange number of MMORPGs that take their plots from manhwa, and even stranger, the manhwa are licensed in English. The famous Lineage is one of them (Lineage was licensed by ADV Manga but never released), and prior to making Lineage, the game creator started with Nexus, based on Kingdom of the Winds, released by Netcomics. Redmoon is another, and the graphic novels have a version of the game handily bundled into the back. ComicsOne released this in 2001 (possibly making it one of the oldest manhwa in English, along with the ComicsOne version of NOW?), and they stopped after 6 volumes, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick up all of them recently. Especially since I love fantasy comics and promised to read more male-oriented manhwa.
Redmoon gets off to a non-traditional start, which is surprising in a sprawling fantasy epic like this. This entire volume is spent at a high school, in the life of a boy named Philar. Philar is beginning to experience strange surges of power, like the ability to singlehandedly take out local gangs that pester him at arcades and in class. Soon he finds himself the subject of bizarre accidents, like earthquakes and falling basketball hoops. The accidents are always severe, but somehow Philar lives through them when a regular person would not. It soon becomes clear he is the subject of a debate between two powerful beings from another world, and may or may not be the former king of a fantasy kingdom who has sealed himself into a regular high school boy. The king’s brother has seized power and has sent his former fiancee as an assassin to eliminate any possible form that the old king might take. The fiancee is sure that Philar is not their king. He may have fooled her by changing his name to Philar, a clever alias and completely unlike hiss real name, Philaro. Philaro Bercanees Feliwoono.
Towards the end of the book, the assassination attempts get increasingly more hilarious as the characters possess random passerbys that conjure knives and get thrown into rivers. Philar befriending a very confused boy that stabs him and nearly drowns was one of the highlights of the book for me.
The volume takes a long time to read, and I got very caught up in the story despite the fact it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary or terribly exciting (aside from, again, being a sprawling fantasy epic that takes place in modern times… or the 1980s, whatever). It does take its time and is very careful about developing its characters. I feel like I’ll have more of a bead on it after I figure out whether the story will take place in a fantasy world (very likely) or in the real world with the young Philar. This was mostly exposition, but it did leave me interested and ready to dive into the story proper.