Raiders 1 by JinJun Park: B-

raiders1From the back cover:
Irel Clark is a professor’s assistant whose latest find is the “Holy Grail” for members of his profession—literally! But when it turns out that some decidedly unholy individuals are also after the blood of Christ, Irel must drink from the chrism bottle he’s recovered to save his own life. Immortality leaves something to be desired, though, when undead cannibals walk the earth in constant need of human flesh, and Irel’s newly immortal body is nothing short of an all-you-can-eat buffet!

It hadn’t occurred to me, before reading Raiders, that all or nearly all of the manhwa I have read has been geared for a female audience. Anyone have recommendations for good manly manhwa?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Raiders, but an appealing cover and a positive review from Eva Volin compelled me to check it out. Essentially, it’s all about the blood of Jesus. Irel Clark, a young man working for a professor who’s an expert in biblical relics, infiltrates a church in Glastonbury where the Holy Grail is rumored to be located. Instead of the grail, Irel finds a chrism bottle, one of five legendary vessels containing the blood of Christ and, after a shootout with some soldiers, he and the professor proceed towards London by train with the bottle in tow.

Others want the chrism bottles for themselves. The most violent of these is Lamia, a surprisingly sympathetic zombie who hates having to kill to survive and was going to use the blood in order to restore her humanity. Unfortunately, she goes about this by killing the professor in a gruesome manner and threatening Irel to the extent that he drinks the blood himself, which grants him the power of perpetual regeneration. Since he prevented her from obtaining a cure, Lamia keeps him chained up and gnaws on him instead of eating other people.

What we get in this first volume is really just a scrap of story; it’s fast-paced and intriguing, but events do not progress much beyond the initial setup. Instead, lots of new characters are introduced. Irel and Lamia get the most attention, which is good since they’re the most interesting, but there’s also some unnamed fellow who sends his teen servant (possibly a former zombie) and her giant partner/minion after the chrism bottle, yet another unnamed fellow in cahoots with the first one (this one can morph into a bat!), a cop who is excited by the cannibalistic shenanigans aboard the train to London, and the professor’s daughter. Quite a few of these characters converge on the final page of the volume, promising chaos for volume two.

The art is in a style I typically think of as “high contrast,” meaning it’s primarily white and black without much screentone. I found the action sequences to be confusing sometimes—Lamia loses an arm at one point by some unseen means—but overall the art is pretty good, dark and gritty as befits a gory story about zombies.

Ultimately, Raiders is a lot better than I thought it would be. Perhaps my expectations for a zombie action title are lower than they would be for something else, but I enjoyed it and plan to read volume two when it comes out in February 2010.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. […] to let go and roll with the story, there is also much here to enjoy.” Michelle Smith at Soliloquy in Blue calls it “fast-paced and intriguing” with “dark and gritty” artwork, better […]

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