The next chapter in Yi Soon Shin, the historical action comic about war adds love to the mix. At the end of the previous episode, Yi Soon leads his people through a brutal battle against Japanese forces at the Battle of Sacheon. Chapter three provided plenty of action, but the narrative is starting to bog down. In chapter four, Yi Soon flips the script and offers a little action but a lot more story development … sort of.
Writing: Ornie Kompan
Art: Giovanni Timpano
Colors: Adriana De Los Santos
Letters: Joel Saavedra
Co-Writer/Editor: David Anthony Kraft
“I will rest when the Japanese are driven out of our country.”
– Yi Shin Soon
Chapter three ended with the reveal of Jin, a war survivor, and courtesan. However, we don’t understand Jin’s purpose until later on in this part of the story. Instead, we spend some time with the survivors of the Japanese navy. They’re dejected, but traitor Baron Seo gives them a little inspiration and backup. The mission now is to kill Shin in a surprise attack. Meanwhile, Shin and the Koreans are celebrating an epic victory. But Shin wants none of it. Yi plans to attack again soon. However, personal conflicts arise.
As it turns out, Jin is the arm candy for Admiral Won much to the chagrin of Lieutenant Song who is also Shin’s closest friend. In a drunken stupor, Song tries to take Jin from Won, insulting his superior. The consequences of his actions force Shin to choose between friendship and honor. The dilemma is interesting, the setup is well-done, but the payoff feels like another excuse for some gloriously gory artwork or for Shin to have a “tough choice” to make.
The narrative for Yi Soon Shin is questionable. It’s very matter-of-fact and continues to introduce new characters 100+ pages in. The artwork of the book is its strength. Timpano and De Lost Santos do some wonderful work. Whether it’s a gory panel, an explosive one, or a touching one, the artwork tells the story beautifully. The angles for many panels feel very cinematic as the war rages on and the stakes get higher. But the style of the book, the number of similarly-dressed characters, and the narrative shifting away from Shin makes it hard to appreciate their work more.
“No balls, no glory“ – Baron Seo
Yi Soon Shin is still feeling like it’s walking through mud. Following five, six, seven characters and their tidbits of interpersonal detail feel a bit convoluted. Though the title of the book is Yi Soon Shin, we spend so little time with him so often. And the time we spend with Yi often ends up being short, uninteresting bits. The war is wonderful to watch, but the story received a much-needed narrative boost from chapter four. However, the least interesting character is turning out to be Yi Soon Shin.