‘Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender’ review.

3 Feb

“Courage is not the absence of fear.  It is the ability to act in spite of it!” – Anon.

It is 09:30am (02/02/13) and I am happily chilled out in my bed.

It is now 09:37am and the postman has just delivered a parcel to me.  It contains a graphic novel.

At the time of writing, it is 10:15pm and I have been sat here for the past 2 hours desperately wracking my brains for a suitable, witty introduction to this review.  I can’t think of anything.  Up until today I thought I knew everything there was to know about what makes a hero.  I am honest enough to admit that I was wrong.

The graphic novel in question is called ‘Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender’ and is set during the ‘Imjin War’ (1592 – 1598).  The Imjin War was a real-life war where the Japanese tried to conquer China via Korea.  The story here follows the efforts of a Korean naval commander named (you guessed it) ‘Yi Soon Shin’.  Yi was a real-life warrior and is still revered in Korea to this day as a true hero and tactical genius.  I admit, I am normally very hesitant about reading hisorically based comic-books as I find that there is either too much emphasis on the minute details of history or too much focus on making it a “good story” without paying enough attention to the source material.  This may sound overly fussy on my part but I have read some true shockers in my time.

The first thing that struck me was the artwork.  Between Timpano’s pencils and Santos’ colouring the effect was immediate and outstanding.  This is the coloured, comic-book equivalent of Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ and that is not a comparison I make lightly nor in jest.  Every panel has just enough action, emotion and kineticism to tell the entire story without a single word being put to paper.  Vibrant, restrained and yet very graphic in places.  This series never uses shocking images for the sheer sake of it which lends an air of respect and maturity to it.  Saavedra’s lettering compliments the art perfectly.  Never obscuring the artwork whilst never becoming obscure itself.  I am very impressed by the sheer ferocity of the wording throughout the story.

Despite the art mentioned above, it would ultimately count for less if the writing and script were not upto par.  Again, I found my fears unfounded.  What Kompan has done is to take a piece of heroism within history and lovingly wrap it up in a comic-book.  Yes, there may be some embellishment (depending on which historian you believe) with certain characters but it never detracts from the story.  What really drives the story home is the fact that the events in this book are real.  Yi was real.  The battles, the lives lost, the heroism and tragedy of it all is real.  It is no exaggeration to say that Yi had the entire fate of Korea on his shoulders and yet he held it together with a will of absolute iron.  Outnumbered beyond reckoning, Yi refused to give in to the over-whelming might of the Japanese.  It may seem like Yi is a very one-dimensional character from how I have described him thus far.  This is not the case.  Yi was undoubtedly a hero but still human.  He is shown to have his doubts and inner demons.  He is also shown to be compassionate, loyal and modest regardless of his rank and position.  I found myself drawing comparison’s between Yi and other great leaders like Winston Churchill.  This guy was not just an inspiration to his men but also a warning to the invaders that there was strength left yet in Korea.

The other characters within the book all bring something new and exciting to the story whilst never being over-played or becoming stale.  The pacing is spot-on, only ever letting the reader catch their breath briefly before plunging them into the brutal, bloody world of warfare once more.  Character development is also handled very well with each person adding something vital to the story whilst remaining as their own seperate entity.

What ‘Onrie Kompan Productions’ has pulled off here is nothing short of stunning.  Well-researched, expertly written, brilliantly edited and fantastically drawn.  Yi Soon Shin is an absolute must-read for both comic-book and history fans.  There may be no super-powers in sight but I defy anyone to say that this book is not about heroes.  Humbling, entertaining and able to leave the reader wanting more.  What more can I say?  Brilliant!  Absolutely brilliant!

Get here and grab a copy to see for yourself just how good it is:  www.yisoonshin.com/purchase

TO VICTORY!!

Psimon  🙂

** I would like to send out a massive thank you to Onrie Kompan and his team for allowing me to review this book.  It has been an honour and absolute pleasure.  Also to Dave Music from Comic Book Display, without whom I would never have heard about Onrie Kompan Productions.**

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One Response to “‘Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender’ review.”

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