Heaven Above Heaven: Vol. 1

Hyun Kang-Suk, Author, Jeon Joong-Won, Illustrator . Tokyopop $9.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-59532-288-3

Excellent artwork can't quite overcome a disjointed plot and juvenile blathering in this Korean manhwa. The flying-body fight scenes that are the core of most Asian comics are handled excitingly enough, but Jeon also has a superior eye for atmospheric landscapes and portraits, producing delicate pen-and-ink work that rivals that of Charles Vess. Unfortunately, the action is much less interesting than the art. Seventeen years ago, sages feared that the birth of a baby girl would lead to the reawakening of the Beast that once devastated the world. Later, a traveling warrior is knocked unconscious by an eerie child who morphs into an adult foe. Still later, Bakhong, a young bumpkin, struts into town to join the local dojo. These disjointed pieces fail to gel into a coherent plot. Furthermore, it's hard to care about Bakhong's future. On the one hand, he is exceptionally cute and nimble; on the other, he behaves like a horny oaf when he peeks into a bathroom and catches sight of a naked girl whom he ends up fighting, in typical fashion. This formulaic book is a mixture of the best and worst aspects of manga, both silly and exquisitely beautiful. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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