Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 80


by Mitsuhisa Kuji
Genre notes: war, grotesque, intrigue
7+ vols
ISBN: 1935654756 (Amazon)

The book of Genesis does this thing right at the beginning of the first book of the Pentateuch, right after the Fall of Humanity and right after the Cain and Abel incident. It’s rather an establishing shot for the whole of the rest of the Pentateuch. It’s like Orson Welles’ fabulous crane shot introducing Touch of Evil. It basically tells you everything you need to know to make sense of what follows. It gives you foundation enough not to be irreparably lost. It’s ambiance and context and foreshadowing all in one. And it works magnificently for those with patience enough to care.

Genesis 5 reads as a litany of death. So and so was born, lived so long, had a particular son through which the dynasty would pass, lived for so many years, and then died. Next! The book repeats the formula with rare exception for ten generations. It’s a bit taxing to read but drives home the author’s point that after things went haywire in the Earthly Paradise, there is no stopping death. Things were promised to get better, but they just aren’t. No matter how long a person lives, no matter how rad they were, they all die in the end. It’s macabre (though treated a bit sterile in this early chapter—things get cooking later with details to spare) and even tedious, but it’s to a particular end.

Wolfsmund has the same thing going on. The first two volumes are relentless. They’re gruesome and draining and don’t really seem to go anywhere. It’s just ugly death after ugly death, and Kuji seems to introduce characters only to see them tortured and dead by chapter’s end. It’s maddening and sometimes off-putting. But then, like the book of Genesis, suddenly things start happening. The loose threads of a plot begin to weave into sight and all of that earlier horror begins to make a bit more sense and it turns into a historically-based (loosely) retelling of the Battle of Morgarten (Swiss v Austrians).

That so many seemingly main characters die so frequently is probably a gutsy move on Kuji’s part. She's made a choice that threatens to alienate readers before they have a chance to invest in the plot, when it eventually arrives. Fans of gore and gruesome deaths will probably stick around for long enough, as Kuji seems to delight in finding new ways to kill off sympathetic characters. Even well after the initial formula for each chapter gives way to a more spanning and directed narrative, the creator remains well-pleased to torture, kill, and maim with abandon. A man has molten lead poured into his face. A child has his head torn off by starving wolves. A young girl is hung naked upside-down and her throat slit. A woman has her face punched in with a plate-clad fist. A man is crushed under a heavy gate. Scalding water, boiling oil, firebombs, swords, hammers, sickles. Everybody dies and dies badly. It’s pretty rough.

It got to the point in the mid-series climax where a particular (and well-justified) execution was so barbaric that I got queasy and put the book down for about six months. But from history, it's possible that this is just the tip of the iceberg. After all, it's recorded that the fleeing Hapsburg knights would throw themselves into the freezing lakes to drown rather than face the horrors of the Swiss peasantry.

So not a book for the faint of heart, BUT a very well-put-together book if you either like fanciful military history or drawings of people being murrrrdurrrd.

[Browse archive of recommendations to date]

Good Ok Bad features reviews of comics, graphic novels, manga, et cetera using a rare and auspicious three-star rating system. Point systems are notoriously fiddly, so here it's been pared down to three simple possibilities:

3 Stars = Good
2 Stars = Ok
1 Star = Bad

I am Seth T. Hahne and these are my reviews.

About the Site

Support me by buying my art on Etsy

Review copy submission may be facilitated via the Contact page.

Browse Reviews By

Other Features



Comics by Seth T. Hahne

Ghost Towns, a comic about names and endings by Seth T. Hahne

Monkess The Homunculus, a graphic novel for children by Seth T. Hahne

Nostalgia, an autobio comic about fear by Seth T. Hahne

Golden Rules: an 18-page comic by Seth T. Hahne

A Rainy Day Love Song: a Valentines comic by Seth T. Hahne

Free Horizon, a sci-fi comic by Austin Wilson and drawn by Seth T. Hahne