With a title like Striker & Slayer, it should surprise no one that this book is an in-depth, introspective piece on the nature of the human condition…okay, yeah, sometimes, I’m only here to entertain myself. Delivering all of the punch(ing) and vigor(ous beating of fools) that one would expect, Striker & Slayer has all of the hallmarks of great manga, even though it’s read left to right in a way that will be more comfortable for Western readers unfamiliar with the style. This would stand as a good introduction for folks new to the genre, so if you’ve been curious, then this might be a good first stop for you.
Some of the most successful manga - from Dragonball to One-Punch Man - has a similar hook when it comes to story, and that is to go BIG. Darius Walker nails it just in the description, with demi-gods and vampires mixing it up with the denizens of the underworld, and the story takes off on the first page from there. As is typical in manga, there’s a lot of information tossed out into the world, and the majority is either brushed off (making our sense of the extraordinary the key) or comes as the biggest damn revelation ever. It’s fun to play with that dynamic, and Walker has a lot of fun with it. The best part is that he’s not doing some tongue-in-cheek jab at the genre; he’s really making it legitimate in a loving and fun way.
Renzo Cardenas has the tone down from cover to cover. The consistency, the vibrant playfulness with the script, and the sheer energy on each page are easy to see. It’s a bit mind-bending for me to see the style move in the left-to-right direction, but everything makes complete sense (in that the linear progression of action is easy to follow, the content is on you to figure out). Cardenas nails all of the hallmarks without diving into the traps that usually catch manga artists, and though everyone is quite svelte and attractive, there’s no Love Hina-type graphic nature to anything which is good and makes me feel much more comfortable.
If you’re a manga fan who wants an interesting take on the genre in a backwards-facing way, you’ll certainly feel at home with this title. And if you’re new to the form, I couldn’t really imagine a more perfect way to step into it than this book. There’s a lot of potential for the series, which is always the case when you get this much info at once, so I’m very interested to see just where it goes from here.
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