Dynamite Entertainment 2016
Storytellers: Fabrice Sapolsky & Fred Pham Chuong
Coloured by Veronica R. Lopez
Taken to prison, he’s released thanks to his uncle’s lawyer, Marcus Simpson. As he exits the facility, he’s handed a sports bag containing a Golden Dragon statue he has no clue about. Installed in Da Wei’s apartment in Manhattan, Juan scratches his finger with a mysterious tree’s red shard while holding the statue. This triggers a chain of events designed to make him the next Spirit of the Earth. Unfortunately, blinded by his newfound abilities, he kills an innocent man in the process. Now, discover how everything started and how Juan Jin fits in the story…
I like the opening here as we get to see the spirit of the Earth in action. I’m a huge fan of the visuals here the way we see him go across the rooftops of Chinatown and see the lanterns and crowdedness of the city itself and how it’s represented. Also getting a chance to see him in action and get a better understanding of his relationship with his statue well that’s just a bonus. There really is something extraordinary about the way his armour looks and the way the movement is shown on the page that is nice to see.
The introduction of Long Huo took me by complete and utter surprise. Who Long really is and what he is really about makes me smile. Long’s background and upbringing that we learn about here is possibly something that many people around the world wouldn’t be aware of. I love the inclusion of this in Long’s background and religious upbringing. Again seeing where Long goes as we learn his true nature and seeing a Synagogue represented in such magnificent fashion really took my breath away. That some things we would take for granted or just be “ignorant” about are infused in this story makes it much stronger and more powerful that I had originally thought.
Also the introduction of the Lady Xia and her encounter with Long deepens the mystery of the statues and what they represent to these unsuspecting new recipients of them.
I feel like i’m on some wonderfully strange cultural journey of exploration. Not quite like being in a class but close enough. We’re seeing a look at something we’ve not been exposed to before in ways that both educate and entertain. The storytelling here is utterly marvelous with how the story is structured and executed so that we as readers aren’t overwhelmed with new information and ideology.
This is the power of comics folks. It has this ability to show us different parts of the world, expose us to different points of view and do so in ways that we learn without realising we are learning. With strong writing, characterisation, premise and background information told alongside some wonderfully expressive interior artwork we get to be immersed in a culture.
Also the fact that sometimes fate or destiny works in mysterious ways and brings the characters together in what appears a natural way is wonderfully done. It doesn’t hurt that this story takes place in a New York City that is less accepting of non-whites and that some stereotypes we’re seeing have an authentic feel. It’s a nice reminder of how far we’ve come and how much further we still need to go.