The second part of Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender adds a new layer of antagonism in the form of a vicious new antagonist. War is brutal and horrific. At the end of the opening chapter of this story about a Korean naval commander is some gruesome imagery. It’s reminiscent of the scene from Predator where they find the downed helicopter. It was indeed an intriguing end. But does the next chapter live up to the build-up?
Writing: Ornie Kompan
Art: Giovanni Timpano
Colors: Adriana De Los Santos
Letters: Joel Saavedra
Co-Writer/Editor: David Anthony Kraft
“Practice makes perfect.” – Baron Seo
By the end of the first chapter, readers knew the name Baron Seo and seen his gruesome handiwork. So, when the next chapter begins with the quote above, readers know all too well what he’s talking about. The masterstroke of this moment, a page before the actual next part of the story begins, is that it adds to the terror we feel about a character we have yet to meet.
Chapter two opens again with the Japanese side of things. Two samurai leaders argue over their failing attempt at destroying the Korean people. It’s a heated, almost deadly debate, but it is soon turned on its head with a surprising revelation. In walks Baron Seo, who takes note of this once-secret info and twists it to his advantage.
Kompan does a great job in the opening sequence of adding rich new layers to the story. Seo is filled out as a ruthless traitor to the Korean people. And now, knowing a secret about these two Japanese generals, Seo has a new level of leverage. However, Chapter 2 leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to our hero, Yi Soon Shin, who doesn’t really accomplish much or get new bits of exciting character development. At points, a purported love interest gives rise to some forgettable (sometimes cringe-worthy) dialogue.
Pencils, inks, and colors continue the beautiful style set up in the first chapter. Timpano and colorist Santos combine forces to create a style that is muddy but without losing clarity. It’s a gritty vibe with some vibrant colors thrown in, particularly when it comes to the different significant characters. Yi Soon Shin’s bright red outfit stands out against the brown ships, blue seas, tan shorelines and green trees. It there’s one gripe about the book two chapters in, it’s the lettering which is functional but otherwise uninspired. An order near the end, one that should be a crisp, powerful set of words, looks like as if treated with a fisheye effect in photoshop.
The strengths of Yi Soon Shin continues to be the historical weight provided by the context of the story. Yi Soon moves along at a brisk pace, sets up arcs, and dives deeper into the world with each page. The lackluster lettering mentioned above doesn’t distract from the book. Overall, Yi Soon Shin’s epic story races forward into history and an eventual battle to end all battles.