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Issues #1-3 of Peak make up the first chapter of the overarching story of the series.
“Whose Choice Is It?” follows a group of military recruits (Yun Ryu, Bae Lim, Hak Ko, Ghi Nam, and Gwang Park) as they are assigned the Police Force Mountain Rescue Unit as their first military station. The boys, initially thrilled at the prospect of spending time in Mt. Bukhan’s national park and breezing through their first military assignment, are quickly put in their place when confronted with the daunting task of actually climbing the mountain that they have been assigned to.
Their supervisor Joo-Kim, a long-time officer of the Mountain Rescue Unit, makes certain to put the boys through their paces and force them them to realize that life on the mountain won’t be the cakewalk that they are expecting. He tasks them with running up the mountain, urging them to try and keep pace with him so as to make them understand that, as rescue rangers, they will need to know the area well enough to weave through the trees without gasping for breath every hundred feet.
Despite the fact that there are a fair number of characters introduced within the first three issues of Peak, it seems as though the comic is heavily implying that the most pivotal character will be the mountain itself.
The key question of the chapter, AKA the first three issues of Peak, is: Who chose you?
Though initially the answer seems obvious, the boys were assigned to Mt. Bukhan by their military supervisors, as the chapter progresses the answer takes a more spiritual and less literal turn.
The presence of the mountain is felt throughout and, once Yun Ryu begins to decipher how best to climb it, he has a voiceover that indicates his later belief that it was the peak itself that chose the boys as it’s newest rescue rangers.
The notion is a bit vague, and somewhat ominous considering the way that Yun refers to the idea, and further indicates that the mountain itself is crucial to the characters as well as the overarching plot.
At one point during Issue #1, readers are shown a flashback of mountain-climbing party that have found themselves caught in a deadly storm while on the face of an enormous cliff. The combined use of visuals and dialogue makes it clear how dangerous the situation is and successfully highlights the peril that the climbers find themselves in, especially when one decides to break from the pack ignore the warnings in favor of trying to make it down the mountain and away from the storm.
This section of the comic is illustrated through the use of dark colors that heighten the ominous and foreboding tone of the content. The darkness of the flashback contrasts heavily with the 1998, ‘present,’ of the comic, which is drawn with extraordinarily bright and lively colors that paint a far more positive picture.
The boys’ first introduction is depicted through bright blues and greens, making the peak seem picturesque in comparison to the threatening visuals from before. As the comic continues, the color scheme remains vibrant and accentuates the nature that the boys are ignoring during their ascent.
Some people believe that it’s the visuals that make the comic, which is something that holds true for Peak. Though the comic genuinely does have an intriguing plotline, drawing readers in with the mysteries of what happened to the fallen climber and why the boys were brought to the mountain, said plot wouldn’t have nearly as great an impact if it weren’t for the images that guide the readers through the story.
The illustrations drawn by Sungsoo Hong for Peak are without a doubt my favorite aspect of the comic because, simply put, they’re stunning.
It took me a while to realize this, initially just scrolling through the Spottoon site and glancing at the images as the story unfolded, but before long I found myself slowing down and taking a longer amount of time to really look at the visuals before moving on to the next box of dialogue. The illustrations are just as interesting, if not more so, as the actual story and are more than deserving of a focused attention.
There is a seamless transition from dark to light and the illustrations are key in cluing the reader in to what the tone of the section will be. There’s an incredible amount of information in the comic that inspires multiple reads, as each additional glance reveals a small detail that was missed on the first go around.
As far as the actual story, Peak is interesting enough to warrant continuing with the series. Though Issues #1-3 serve as an introduction more than anything else, there were enough moments of intrigue to make it obvious that, once we get a bit more into the plotline, Peak will undoubtedly be an exciting read that will weave together the unanswered questions of Chapter 1.
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