Title: Shaman Warrior Vol 4
Author: Park Joong-Ki
Publisher: Dark Horse
May Contain Spoilers
I have had a complete change of heart regarding this series, and it proves, once again, that some titles need a little more time to get ramped up and fall into a firm, steady stride. The focus this time shifts to Yaki, the young Shaman Warrior, and it is a change for the better. Her father has been brutally murdered, most of her bloodline has been hunted down and butchered, and after her guardian, Batu, leaves her on a quest for revenge, she is left pretty much alone. Batu’s friend, Genji, takes her into the desert and leaves her at the Butcher Camps, where she thinks the child will be safe. Safe in this instance is a relative term, because the men at the Butcher Camps are hardly better than wild animals, and their only purpose in life is to gain strength so they can demolish their enemies.
I felt so bad for Yaki. She’s little more than a baby, and she’s left in the care of men who wouldn’t know how to take care of a dog. Life is hard, it’s a constant struggle to stay alive, and there is never enough food to go around. Nurturing environment? Not even in her dreams. After being abandoned by both Batu and Genji, Yaki’s world has become a daily race for a handful of food, a few drops of water, and the fruitless avoidance of pain and discomfort. This isn’t a childhood; it’s the desperate scramble to keep from being killed, maimed, or abused.
Yaki’s terror is evident from the moment she first steps into the camp with Genji. The inhabitants are scary, especially when they realize that Yaki is a girl. What a bunch of sick animals to leave her with! Still, Genji does what Batu has tasked her to do and leaves the kid, who is really not far removed from infancy, with her former master. This is the most horrifying thing of all; Genji knows exactly what is in store for her young charge, and she still hands her over, helpless and alone. Argh! She thinks she’s doing her a favor. I guess if Yaki survives until Batu comes for her, if he ever does, she will be able to fend for herself, but man, the methods here are so harsh and brutal.
This was a very suspenseful read, as Yaki negotiates the new reality of her life. Thrown into the Assassins’ camp, she is expected to sink or swim in her harsh new life. Things are never easy, death is always an eye blink away, and reader gets caught right up in the daily struggle for survival. When Yaki and a young friend get caught stealing food from the Wrestlers’ camp, all hell breaks loose, and she has to face the consequences of her actions. It’s a rough lesson to learn.
The art has improved as well, especially the action sequences. Where before I had trouble following the flurry of motion, the layouts and style has gotten better, and now there is a new sense of excitement and drama to the scenes. The panels fly by in rapid succession, and the life and death struggles have an intensity that was missing before.
This volume of Shaman Warrior delivers non-stop adrenaline, and will appeal to even the most jaded of action adventure fans.