Michael Avon Oeming, . . Image, $9.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-58240-244-4

"The Bulletproof Monk is a mythical hero in a modern world," writes director John Woo in his introduction to this collection. Young Kar, a boy of Tibetan descent, resides not only in a modern world, but the world of Asians in America, which lends a unique flavor to an otherwise conventional action-hero adventure. Kar's ancestors were long ago saved from Nazi scientists by a "Mongolian cowboy" warrior with extraordinary powers. According to legend, this hero, Bulletproof Monk, disappeared once the villagers were safe, but he left behind an amulet now possessed by Kar's family. The Cultural Revolution forced his family to flee to Hong Kong, and Kar's mother sent him away for safety with the amulet and instructions to seek the Bulletproof Monk. Now grown, Kar lives in San Francisco's Chinatown and works for a local gang with ties to China. When the leader of the gang is killed, Kar is forced to find the Bulletproof Monk and confront certain truths about himself. By the end of this volume, Kar is on a hero's journey. The creators of this title are clearly preoccupied with contemporary Asian pop culture, and Kar's introspective monologues and his fascination with food are an emphatic nod to Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai as well. Despite the Asian influence, the drawing style is angular and flat and feels very American. Yet this vivid but unfussy style captures action without sacrificing mood. Terrible copyediting is the only flaw in this otherwise fast-moving and well-told tale. (Jan.)