Tony Wong, Author, Tony Wong, Illustrator . ComicsOne $13.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-58899-188-1

The first volume in this Hong Kong kung fu comic has all the elements of a major epic: detailed, dynamic artwork; a ferociously complicated plot; and a large cast of characters who need serious counseling. Wong lovingly depicts the martial arts combat with pages of bodies sailing through the air as the fighters launch themselves at one another. Wong also offers wonderfully intricate architectural panoramas and some vivid character sketches, especially full length portraits of grotesque warriors. These glowering characters are plotting against each other even when they're not trading blows. They represent their personal desires, of course, but also those of their clans as they contend for the magical power embodied in the weapons of the title. Wong spins many plot threads and, naturally, this installment leaves them dangling. Some of the conflicts are a bit loony, for example that of Tian Wen, a foundling who grew up as the playmate of princess Snow Bei. The two are deeply in love, but when Bei visits the weapons factory where Tian works as a blacksmith, Tian childishly insults her. Veins pop out of Bei's forehead and she unleashes a blast of psychic energy, sending a flock of red hot weapons hurtling at Tian. It's hard not to giggle at moments like this, but this is one kung fu comic that readers can laugh both at and with. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2003
Release date: 04/01/2005
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