Volume 92, Issue 31

Thursday, October 29, 1998

behind closed doors


Japanese comic fuses time frames


David Mack

Image Comics


The first collection was an action-packed black and white fiesta that went on to receive critical acclaim from many media outlets. Kabuki: Skin Deep is the sequel.

In the first Kabuki collection entitled Circle of Blood, writer/artist David Mack introduced the character of Kabuki, along with a secret organization called the Noh, which is a covert unit designed to combat Japan's underworld. The story is set in the not too distant future, where Japan is a country ruled by the media and Kabuki and her fellow agents are pop culture icons, appearing in commercials and print ads everywhere.

Picking up where the first series left off, Kabuki finds herself abducted by Control Corps, an agency which corrects defective agents. In contrast to the first series, which was based largely in the action/adventure realm, this sequel is in effect a character study. Vast amounts of background information are given through Kabuki's sessions with a psychiatrist. This series also marks the introduction of Kabuki's first ally, Akemi.

With Kabuki: Skin Deep, Mack has created a dramatic and compelling story-line that demands an emotional connection between the reader and the book. The content of Kabuki's origins stem from the abduction of thousands of women for "comfort" uses by the Japanese army during WWII. By basing this book at least partly on a real historical tragedy, Mack immediately creates a real world connection between the reader and his character.

The artwork in this book is in full colour, allowing Mack to use a wide variety of tools in creating the art for this book. By mixing pencil and ink, paint and other devices, such as lace to provide borders, the artwork draws the reader in and establishes a more meaningful connection with the character than possible with just pencil and ink. This mixed approach depicts the mind of the character.

The strongest aspect of this book, however, is the manner in which the story and art are combined. Much of the dramatic effect is a direct result of Mack's inventive page layouts coupled with his, at times, poetic words.


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Copyright The Gazette 1998