Comic Vol 1 by Ha SiHyun Manhwa Review

 

Title: Comic Vol 1

Author: Ha SiHyun

Publisher: Ice Kunion

ISBN: 9788952746078

May Contain Spoilers

When Alice Song wins third place in a comic creator talent search, she’s shocked.  She’s the youngest winner in the contest’s history, and now she’s going to have her comic published in a manhwa magazine.  If that wasn’t enough to put her on cloud nine, she is reunited with a former teacher she has a major crush on, and she gets to meet one of her favorite manhwa artists.    But after meeting Saturn Kang, her life gets a lot more complicated than she’s prepared for.  The two don’t exactly hit it off, and soon she’s bickering with him and trying to defend herself against his ardent admirers.  Will things ever get back to normal for Alice? 

I was starting to feel sorry for Alice, because she is in so far over her head that she can’t even see the surface anymore.  She has been sucked into a quagmire of complications, all because her friend secretly enters one of her stories to a manhwa magazine.  When she wins third place, her comfortable life gets tossed out the window.  First she is reunited with Mr Hwang, the inspiration for her story and the man who makes her heart go pitter-patter.  Then he introduces her to hot young comic artist Saturn Kang, and she doesn’t think she can handle this overdose of good fortune.  Until she learns the terrible truth about Saturn – he’s her age, and he is a complete and utter  turd.  It’s always difficult when your illusions are shattered so completely.

Comic turns its lens on Alice’s tumultuous relationship with Saturn.  Saturn is the pen name for Patrick, the hottest guy at the boys school next door to Alice’s all girls school.  The other girls don’t take too kindly to Alice getting cozy with him, so they start to bully her.  What they don’t realize is that Alice was only giving Patrick a piece of her mind and telling him what a jerk she thinks he is.  Events spiral quickly downward after that, both with the girls and with Patrick.  Patrick saves her from the mob, telling them that Alice is special to him.  Now she has to deal with a pack of jealous girls and the monstrous jerk that is Patrick.

The personality clashes between Patrick and Alice rage like forest fires.  Once the flames are fanned, there is no stopping them.  Their disagreements flare out of control, and the intensity of their dislike is only softened by the comedic touches thrown into fray.  It’s almost like Alice is the unsuspecting guest on a game show, where her every movement is captured to be replayed later for an audience.  Her misadventures are so over the top that when she really does end up on TV, you can only feel embarrassed for her.   Alice’s placid life of quietly drawing comics in a corner is gone, and there’s no way she’s getting it back.

Though the story followed some tired clichés, it offered up the promise of more volatile encounters between Alice and the difficult Patrick.  The doe-eyed heroine pining away for an older man while a younger guy waits in the wings has been done countless times, but never with this much pent up enthusiasm.  Alice and Patrick get on each other’s nerves, and they don’t hold back or pull any punches, which makes me wonder how they are going to ever find a happy medium.  Being together only makes them feel angry and upset, not exactly a recipe for love that will withstand the test of time.

I didn’t care for the artwork, finding it rough and a little unpolished.  There aren’t a lot of fine details to the character designs, and they are all rather bland and not very appealing.  Despite the lack of definition to the characters, the backgrounds just scream with extraneous clutter, especially in the scenes featuring Alice’s comedic mishaps.

Comic didn’t knock my socks off, but it wasn’t painful to complete, either.  It’s just a middle of the road title, showing off bits of promise here and there.  I’m curious to know more about the characters, but with an ocean of better titles out there, I’m not going to be in a big hurry to track down more volumes.

Grade: C+

Angel Diary Vol 2 by Kara & Lee YunHee Manhwa Review

Title: Angel Diary Vol 2

Author:  Lee YunHee

Artist:  Kara

Publisher: Ice Kunion

ISBN: 9788952744746

May Contain Spoilers

Dong-Young is a runaway angel princess, and she’s hiding from forces from both Heaven and Hell.  The four guardians of Heaven have been ordered by the king to find her, so keeping a low profile is imperative.  Too bad she has the uncanny ability to attract every spirit from miles around!  Trying to keep from being possessed, and trying to stay out of pervert Bi-Wal’s clutches is only complicating her life.  When she’s kidnapped by a water nymph, will her cover be blown?  Will somebody rescue her before the nymph sacrifices her to resurrect her dead lover?

Angel Diary is a little confusing, but its frantic pacing and pretty illustrations will keep me coming back for more.  I think that part of the confusion lies in the large cast of characters, who are only given short spans of attention before the action focuses back on Dong-Young.  After high-tailing it out of Heaven to avoid being wed to the King of Hell, she’s trying to keep a low profile as a male high school student.  Her friendship with Bi-Wal isn’t keeping her as anonymous as she’d like, but she just can’t seem to get rid of the guy.  It’s probably a good thing for her, because he has an almost second-sense, knowing instantly when she’s in trouble.  He’s the kind of guy you want guarding your back.  I think.

Bi-Wal at first comes across as very carefree and unconcerned about much of anything.  It is quickly evident, however, that he is hiding a darker side.  Like Dong-Young, he has secrets, only Bi-Wal is a lot better at keeping them.  He immediately rouses the suspicions of one of the four guardians, who senses that something is different about him, but he just can’t put his finger on what.  During the confrontation with the water nymph, Bi-Wal proved to be very cunning, very calculated, and very ruthless.  He’s the kind of character I like, and I want to know more about him.

The guardians have been ordered by the King of Heaven to find the wayward princess, and some of them are scrambling to comply with their new mission.  To add complexity to their task, they don’t know who all of the guardians are.  I thought is was very odd, and it added to some of the confusion.  Ah-Hin and her brother Ee-Jung are two of the guardians.  Ah-Hin is Dong-Young’s best friend, so you can bet that she’s not going to comply with the capture the princess order.  Ee-Jung has a sister-complex, and his entire existence revolves around Ah-Hin.  The other guardians, Doh-Hyun and Woo-Hyun, aren’t aware that classmates Ah-Hin and Ee-Jung are guardians.  They are actually burning the midnight oil looking for the princess, and since they don’t have much information to go on, they don’t realize that she’s hiding right in front of them.

I am hoping that once all of the characters and their quirks have been established, the story will settle down and start making more sense.  If not, the art is pretty, and I like Bi-Wal enough to keep following along anyway.

Grade:  B

Moon Boy #2 by Lee YoungYou Manhwa Review

 

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Title:  Moon Boy #2

Author:  Lee YoungYou

Publisher:  Ice Kunion

ISBN:  8952746082

May Contain Spoilers

Myung-Ee, determined to rescue Yu-Da from the fox tribe, journeys with Ho-Rang to Junghyun mountain.  There’s a secret rabbit base in the mountain, but human rabbits are forbidden there.  Defying the rules, Ho-Rang presents Myung-Ee to Master Yang so he can teach her the art of fighting and make her a worthy warrior for the Soon-La army.  What?  She has to pull one of her teeth to create her Ho-Se sword?  Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all!

I thought this book lost the momentum of the last.  The first book was enjoyable because I found Lee YoungYou’s world to be really imaginative.  This volume didn’t seem to have as much creativity, and had a lot of stereo-typical characters.  There was the cross-dressing martial arts instructor, the smarmy trainee jealous of all the attention Myung-Ee was receiving, and the psycho classmate who revels in making her miserable.  My enthusiasm for the title had waned – until the last 5 pages. Now I’m interested enough to know what happens next to pick up the 3rd volume.

I liked the concept of the Ho-Se swords.  The rabbits use a tooth and the foxes use a nail to create their swords.  While the necessity for having a tooth embedded in their hands didn’t make much sense to me, conjuring a sword from a tooth is pretty nifty.   Myung-Ee’s sword is a pathetic stick at first, but she’s quickly assured that it will evolve as her powers over it grow.  She soon learns that having a sword means using it against the foxes, and that it’s harder than she thought to hurt somebody else.  Her inner conflict makes her feel ashamed and embarrassed, and I like that her character isn’t a total bad ass.  The foxes are evil and only view the rabbits as food, but Myung-Ee is still torn over hurting them, even in self-defense.

While this volume didn’t grab me like the first, I did get caught up in the story again during the last half of the book.  Let’s just say that there’s a little more to Yu-Da than is apparent at first glance….

Grade:  B-

Rated for Teen 13+

Moon Boy #1 by Lee YoungYou Manwha Review

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Title: Moon Boy #1

Author:  Lee YoungYou

Publisher:  Ice Kunion

ISBN:  895274604x

May Contain Spoilers

Myung-Ee is a boy crazy 5th grader.  When her classmate, Yu-Da discovers that she has a date with Ryu, a popular high school student, he warns her of his reputation.  It seems that several of the girls in his fan club have mysteriously disappeared.  Myung-Ee takes offense to these allegations against the man of her dreams, and gets into a fight with the well-intentioned Yu-Da.  She challenges him to meet her after school so they can settle the matter, and feels strangely let down when the boy never appears.

Five year pass, and Myung-Ee has started at a new school due to her father being transferred for work.  She’s totally shocked when she sees Yu-Da, who had vanished 5 years ago, walking in the hallway.  When she approaches him, he claims that he doesn’t know her.  Drawing the attention of the student council, she insists that he’s the Yu-Da from her past.  Why doesn’t he remember her?  Why are the class leaders so protective of him?

This was a fun book.  Myung-Ee learns that she and Yu-Da are earth rabbits, and the fox tribe is hunting their kind.  It seems that the nasty foxes like eating the rabbits’ livers and drinking their blood.  To make matters worse, Yu-Da is a black rabbit, and if the leader of the fox tribe eats his liver, she’ll gain immortality!  Won’t that suck for the rabbits…

I thought the back-story was highly original.  The rabbits were from the moon, but one day the foxes arrived to feast on the defenseless rabbits.  With little hope for survival on the moon, they fled to the earth.  The hungry foxes followed, and the remaining rabbits formed the Soon-La army to fight them.  They must also rescue Yu-Da, the black rabbit, from their clutches.  The foxes are just waiting for him to become an adult before devouring his liver, so that the gift of immortality will the theirs.

Myung-Ee is determined to save Yu-Da from his gruesome fate.  All those years ago, when she challenged him to meet her after school, all she wanted to do was apologize and give him a pencil to replace the one she had broken.  Crushed when he didn’t show, she swore to never forgive him.  Now that she knows the truth, that he was abducted by the foxes,  she’s equally resolved to save him.  Her mix of emotions was well portrayed; I could really feel her anguish when he didn’t meet her after school, and again when she learned that he’s been living a lie the past five years.

Ice Kunion’s presentation of this installment of Moon Boy is quite nice.  The cover logo is foil stamped and sparkly, and I like the size of their books.  There’s a two-sided foldout just inside the cover, one side profiling the main characters, and the other graced with a floating Yu-Da and close up of Myung-Ee.  I didn’t notice any typographical errors, but I was so caught up in the story that I might have missed some.

Having enjoyed this volume, I have high hopes for the rest of the series.  The characters are likeable, and after a slow start, the storyline zinged along. 

Grade: B

Rated for 13+

Goong #1 by So Hee Park Mahwa Review

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Title:  Goong – The Royal Palace #1

Author: So Hee Park

Publisher: Ice Kunion

ISBN: 895274487X

May Contain Spoilers

Set in an alternate Korea where the monarchy still rules, Chae-Kyong is a 17 year old high school student from a humble background.  Her father is unemployed, and her mother sells insurance to keep food on the table. When she learns that her grandfather made a promise to the deceased king, she’s horrified.  It seems that they agreed for her and the crown prince to wed.  While most girls would be delighted by the prospect of marrying into royalty, Chae-Kyong is opposed to the idea.  The crown prince, Shin Lee, is a total jerk, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him!

I stopped at Borders on my way home from my crushing defeat at the horse show, wanting to use my Christmas reward points before they expired.  I was surprised to see Goong on the shelves; it’s been delayed so many times I half expected it to end up in vapor land.  With my reward points, the book was free, so I picked it up.

I thought the premise of the royal heir attending a public high school while the rest of the family attends  the exclusive Royal High a little shaky, but I dismissed this as nit-picking.  All of the girls drool over the handsome prince, including Chae-Kyong.  While taking out the trash, she has a run-in with Shin, and quickly forms the opinion that he’s an arrogant jerk, while Shin finds her a clown.  He only agrees to marry her because he thinks she’ll give his family a hard time with her embarrassing antics.  The tables are turned on him when Chae-Kyong allows reporters to take an unflattering picture of her, and it ends up on the front page of every newspaper.

I have to agree with Chae-Kyong about the prince.  He’s a jerk.  To keep his girlfriend, pretty Hyo-Rin, out of the glaring spot-light, he agrees to marry Chae-Kyong and brutally makes her fully aware of the reason he’s putting up with the marriage.  He doesn’t like her, and he doesn’t care that she’ll be miserable being subjected to the constant scrutiny of the press.  Can you feel the love?

Yul, his cousin, and the crown prince before his father died, returns to Korea after living aboard.  He’s a more sympathetic character, and I’m almost hoping Chae-Kyong ends up with him instead.  I love his reason for attending their high school instead of Royal High; he can wear his hair any way he likes, and won’t have to cut it.  I guess decisions to attend academic institutions have been sillier, but I can’t think of one right now.

Chae-Kyong is opposed to the marriage, but after seeing how tired her mother has become trying to take care of the family, she agrees to go along with the plan.  When she tells the queen that she’ll marry the prince if it means her family can live more comfortably, she is firmly put back in her place.  She’ll not be allowed to impose conditions on the wedding, though the queen has already considered helping her family.  I found the queen to be a very intimidating character, and I don’t envy Chae-Kyong her new family!

While nothing special, the art moved the story along and it was easy to follow the panel layouts.  I didn’t care for the comedic deformed characters as I found them ugly rather than funny.  I love the colors and textured look of the cover.

Included is a rather lengthy interview with the creator.  She discusses the Goong manga, and the tv series that is based on her work.  There are also photos of So Hee Park to accompany the text.

Grade: B-

Rated for Teen 13+

Legend #1 by Kara & Woo Soo Jung Manhwa Review

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Title: Legend #1

Author: Kara & Woo Soo Jung

Publisher: Ice Kunion

ISBN:  9788952746122

May Contain Spoilers

Eun-Gyo  Sung is no stranger to trouble.  She gets terrible grades, falls asleep in class, and gets into fights.  When she’s suspended for fighting, she runs away from home to escape her mother’s wrath.  She falls onto the subway tracks and is saved by a mysterious boy  She’s instantly smitten with him.  She learns that his sister has been taken captive, and agrees to help him save her.  Soon she finds herself propelled back to the past, a prisoner of the high priest Ho-Dong.  It seems that the spirit of the lake has demanded a sacrifice, and Eun-Gyo and her new companion, No-Ah have been volunteered for the job!

Legend gets off to a promising start.  When No-Ah impetuously challenges his sister’s kidnapper, he learns of the seven blade sword that was used to destroy the monster Bulkirin, and was then broken into pieces.  In order to save his sister, he must locate the seven scattered fragments.  Eun-Gyo seems to be the key to finding the pieces.

I liked Eun-Gyo.  When she discovers that she’s been flung back in time, is she upset?  No!!  She’s positively ecstatic that she doesn’t have to go to school anymore.  She’s disturbed after she’s taken captive by Ho-Dong and told that he intends to kill her, but No-Ah promises to protect her.  This results in another wave of giddy affection for the handsome warrior.  She might be considered a little simple minded when she doesn’t question why No-Ah chose her for his time traveling companion, but I’m hoping this will be covered in the next volume.

The art is dark and a little cluttered, but the pretty boys with their long flowing locks makes up for the occasionally jumbled panels.  The page layouts had a lot of variety and really kept my attention glued to the pages.

Grade: B

Rated for Teen 13+

Hissing 1 by Kang Eun Young

 hissing.jpg

Title: Hissing #1

Author: Kang Eun Young

Publisher: Ice Kunion

ISBN: 8952744632

Da-Eh wants to be a manhwa artist.  So does her friend, Sung-Chul Kim.    Sun-Nam is a total wimp who longs to be a tough guy.  Who knows what  hottie Ta-Jun wants; he’s in this pointless story, too.  Da-Eh manages to slug both Sun-Nam and Ta-Jun in the same afternoon,  but even that didn’t do much to liven up the book.  Between the typos and the bad art, I couldn’t tell what the heck was going on here!

It was hard for me to tell the difference between Sun-Nam and Ta-Jun, though a second flip through the book revealed that they are wearing different earrings.  I couldn’t connect with the characters, and the story didn’t interest me at all. I wish this review wasn’t so lame, but I didn’t like this book enough to even think of anything to say about it!  If you’re still interested in it, I listed it on half.com!  Cheap!!  Read it yourself!

Grade: E