Jumping back to 14th century Japan in Honor and Curse Issue #2 we rejoin Genshi Sakagura on his quest to eventually become the shinobi of the Iga Clan. After the bombshell ending of the series debut issue, Honor and Curse #2 continues Genshis night-time troubles with his spiritual tormentor as well as developing his and Akemi’s relationship in some real mature and meaningful ways. Oh yeah, and its got even more kickass action than the first one.
Honor and Curse #2 written by Mark London with artwork from Nicolas Salamanca, Tekino, Miguel Angel Zapata, and edited by Giovanna T. Orozco picks up after Lord Haruki’s shocking revelation at the end of issue #1. The issue is layered with flashbacks to Genshi’s childhood after he was taken in by his mentor Nishiro along with us seeing Lord Haruki’s plan unfold. I enjoyed seeing Genshi as a child more, especially because his traumatic past plays an increasingly bigger part in the issue’s present-day events. We are introduced to the issue’s real main villain Lady Yua who does not take any time messing around and gets straight down to business. The issue also did a fantastic job of really humanizing Genshi, both through the use of his friend Takeshi who embarrasses himself yet again to help his old friend out and through his relationship his Akemi. Both aspects were a nice juxtaposition from the stranger “evil spirit” aspect which returns here from the first issue and they made me care for Genshi a lot more.
The issue comes to a gripping conclusion between Genshi and Lady Yua and whilst I don’t want to say too much to avoid spoilers it results in one of the best action scenes I’ve seen in comics for quite some time. The scenes themselves stunning with some utterly fantastic artwork which highlights the fighters great technique but also the gruesome nature of the fight in a really detailed and sophisticated way. Plus the issues final confrontation shows a complete flip side to Genshi which was really cool especially after we’ve seen the nicer side to him for the entire issue.
Aside from the last few pages, the entire issue is incredibly character-driven, most importantly with Genshi. Despite his darker childhood and the nightmares, he’s plagued with as an adult this issue does a great job or normalizing him. We see him do normal things we all do; hang out with his best friend, meet the woman he loves and, struggle with his own inner demons. I was actually kind of feeling sorry for him by the end of the issue not that Genshi needs anyone’s sympathy or help for that matter when the fighting starts. Genshi as a character is really strong by himself but he’s elevated even more when he’s with Akemi. She brings him back down to earth and acts as a good emotional anchor for Genshi when he’s dealing with his own personal problems. I would like to see Akemi branch off on her own a bit more in future issues and try and become her own character more, seen as we’ve only seen her with Genshi so far but when they are together I really buy into their friendship and romantic relationship.
The third star is the issues new antagonist Lady Yau, and to put it bluntly, she’s a total badass. The only person we’ve really seen so far who can go toe to toe with Genshi when he loses control and arguably smarter than him she is immediately presented as a real threat. She’s seductive, vindictive and maybe a little bit insane but she was arguably the best part of the entire issue and thanks to her this issues ending blew the first ones out of the water.
A couple of side characters who I enjoyed were Genshi’s friend Takeshi who was back again for some good old comic relief, and his mentor Nishiro. I can’t really talk about Nishiro without giving away spoilers but I really felt for him here because he’s obviously conflicted with himself and I’m excited to see where his story leads.
Honor and Curse #2 has some absolutely stunning artwork. The majority of the issue shifts from tones of warm oranges and yellows to Red’s when Lady Yua is introduced which is a nice subtle yet effective way of setting the mood. Once again Japan itself is captured beautifully and almost has this fairytale vibe to it whilst still be very grounded in realism. Similar to the first issue there is a completely creepy nightmare section where we see what’s going on inside Genshi’s head. It’s scary and horrific and completely awesome. The final confrontation at the end of the issue, however, is where it gets kicked up to an 11. The warm colors of the previous pages are replaced with cold and dark blues. The fighting is intense and gory but not overdone and satisfying without being too unbelievable. A supernatural element adds to the action and creates a noticeable shift in the overall feel of the issue which I really liked.
Honor and Curse #2 takes everything great from the first issue and expands on it. Seeing more into Genshi’s personal life as well as his love life was intriguing and the issue successfully set up a great villain who I can wait to see more of in the future. Hopefully, in issue #3 we’ll see some of those supporting characters like Akemi or Nishiro be developed a little more and claim the stage for themselves because they are just as interesting as our main hero and villain.
If you want to check out our thoughts on Honor and Curse issue #1 you can do so here and be sure to follow to keep up to date with the latest and greatest comic reviews here on GVN.