cover image WAY OF THE RAT: Volume Two: The Dragon's Wake

WAY OF THE RAT: Volume Two: The Dragon's Wake

Chuck Dixon, . . CrossGen, $15.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-931484-77-0

In the first collection of this amusing series set in ancient almost-China, naive but nimble young thief Boon Sai Hong stole several magical artifacts and became the target of both treacherous rival gangs and exasperated townspeople who want him to use his new abilities to protect the city of Zhumar from invaders. In this second volume, Boon discovers fame is overrated. First, the crowd that hails him as a celebrity can't remember his name. Then, an invitation to dinner with Judge X'ain leads to the loss of one of the magical objects, the dangerous Book of the Hell of the Hungry Dragons. The power-hungry judge foolishly uses the book to release a huge dragon into this world. The mood becomes more serious as Boon must retrieve the book and send the dragon back to hell, assisted by a frequently drunken talking monkey and a masked female warrior, the Silken Ghost. Readers who enjoy Jackie Chan movies will relish Boon's adventures, and Dixon's scripts make the fight scenes frequent but plausible. The story brings out the best in the artists. Johnson, Ryder and Garcia clearly enjoy creating the exotic settings, and they're especially good at battles, showing human bodies believably stretched into the contorted postures of martial arts. They seem to be having special fun, though, in creating scenes with writhing dragons that are both decorative and threatening. The dragons are a worthy challenge for Boon, who's still trying to figure out how to be a hero. (Aug.)