September 22, 2017

Top Cow Reviews: Son of Shaolin OGN

Son of Shaolin OGN
Publisher: Top Cow
Writer: Jay Longino
Artist: Caanan White
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Cover: Caanan White

Finding out that you’re a descendant of an ancient bloodline of martial arts masters might be cool if it there wasn’t a major threat to your life and the entire world in the form of Red Fist. But that’s the kind of thing young graffiti writer, Kyrie has to deal with now. Turning his world into a complicated series of events that have him confronting his past and discovering a purpose beyond graffiti and making some sacrifices along the way.

Son of Shaolin’s story isn’t just all flash and kung fu treachery but one showing that Longino put in a serious effort to give you some solid character development as well. Kyrie is a protagonist that doesn’t come off as an annoying teenager but more of a charasmatic and talented kid trying to find his place in the world. Though at times his motivations seem a bit unclear until he meets Master Fong. This is the point where Longino sets up the rules of this world and why Kyrie is important to the Tiger bloodline. It also sheds some light on Red Fist’s motivations and why he’s just as deadly and hunting down Kyrie. The supporting cast of characters are an enjoyable decent mix though the relationship between Kyrie and Luna has a few odd pacing bumps. As far as villains go Red Fist is pure martial arts fury but after we get deeper into his backstory, Longino was able to get a little sympathy from this reader in regards to the character. This made for some emotional payoff towards the end of the story where Longino also showed more character growth from Kyrie.

Caanan White is the main reason this book popped up on my radar since I’ve been a fan of his artwork for quite some time. So it was basically a guarantee that I’d at least enjoy the visual storytelling on the off chance the narrative didn’t hold up. Well here in Son of Shaolin, White and colorist Diego Rodriguez make this a book just worth looking at and they make sure to bring the best out of every panel. Before we get to the action just understand that there is just as much detail and effort put into the more character driven scenes when things slow down. The emotion on every character syncs right up with Longino’s dialogue and helps to sell what’s going on consistantly. White also doesn’t hold back when things get violent which quickly turn a humorous moment in the studio to cringe worthy after we see Kyrie’s face. Now when it comes to the fight scenes White displays the movement and power associated with a good martial arts sequence and even makes the training montages a thing of greatness. The memories of watching Kung Fu Theater came flooding back when Red Fist and Kyrie finally face each and White delivers an even stronger final battle. You can feel the tension that is built before they square off and when White shows Kyrie choosing a pair of Tiger Hook Swords to start the fight then you know it’s about to go down!

There is another hero in this story that we only get a glimpse of and hopefully the creative team has the opportunity to expand on this one because it would be great to see his adventures as well. Especially if it’s executed as well as this story was. Son of Shaolin is kung fu storytelling at its finest and should be in your reading pile because it delivers on what comic readers have been asking for!


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