Manga Mondays presents, for your slicing pleasure…

20 Jun

Imagine a world not unlike our own. Inhabited by people like us, similar strengths, similar weaknesses. Yet subtly different, and often wrongly so. Modern lingo and expressions pop up in a sword slashing fantasy and surprisingly mature reactions come out from where you least expect them.

Welcome to a the world of Vagrant Soldier Ares as created by Ryu Kum-chel. Remember all the untold tales of wandering swordsmen and gifted masters of the blade, remember the untold fantasies of hidden empires with Gladiator champions, remember the fables of clever princes who come up from down under to become the greatest ruler in the lands. Remember them each and all and relive them all in this glorious epic. Not technically a manga, but a manhwa(Korean comics in manga format), Ares pulls absolutely no punches and is a giddy ride through the various ups and downs in the life of Ares. Vagrant soldier and wandering swordsman, questing hero, and Temple Mercenary. Ares rises up through the ranks of an elite mercenary outfit, gains new friends, makes new enemies and gets embroiled in conflicts reaching high up in the aristocracy of the surrounding kingdoms. Ultimately playing a key role in a massive war involving all the nations of the world.

There are betrayals aplenty, and legends are born in this world almost as fast as they die out. For change is the one permanent feature of this comic book, change in the storyline, change in perspectives, change in reactions, change in goals, change in ideals. Change that will keep you hooked to the comic issue after issue, page after page. For this comic does not hold back when it comes to surprising the reader. The characteristic manga tropes are both present and still conspicuously absent from crucial points in the storyline.

Battles you expect Ares to win with a definite edge, he barely manages to pull through. That too with the aid of his comrades. This too was a unique feature in the manga, although it is quite clear from page 1 who the protagonist in the story is, the characterization of even minor characters is rich enough to move the reader into feeling their plights and sufferings. It is entirely possible that your favorite character to take away from the series might be someone who died halfway through the telling.

The villains are enigmatic and mysterious, not to mention far more competent that our hero seems to be in the beginning. As for the action, well lets just say no action fan will walk away dissatisfied from this manhwa. The artwork fluid and radical, morphs into something almost abstract as thick action is described in intense detail. As is to be expected from a comic book almost exclusively about swordsmen. Names pop in from various mythologies providing a deep atmosphere to the comic, this allows the author to create a solid illusion of mythology where there is none. But then an illusion that works perfectly is indistinguishable from reality. The author perfects his illusion in this comic series. And by the time the story ends, you will have the names of the heroes and villains of this particular tragedy memorized.

Read it up, and then find other works by the same author. Thou shalt not regret!

The Red eyed Swordsman is watching you.

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