Greetings and salutations friends, and welcome to another comic book review! Today we will be taking a look at Kamikaze: Volume 1, a graphic novel by Alan Tupper, Carrie Tupper and Havana Nguyen that is bursting with action, great characters, and artwork that would make even the most hardened comic book veterans shed tears of liquid adamantium. So then, let’s get Kamikaze: Volume 1 open and see what it’s all about. Spoilers ahead.
First I would like to talk a bit about the creative team behind Kamikaze. The whole operation is somewhat unorthodox compared to what we typically see, but the outcome is something to behold. Alan Tupper handles background artwork and layouts, as well as rough character sketches. Havana Nguyen then takes those rough character sketches and refines them into their final forms, while also providing the book’s lettering. Carrie Tupper is the writer of Kamikaze, and she also handles the ink and paint for the book. Everyone seems to do a little bit of everything, which one would assume might spread the team thin…but it doesn’t. Not at all.
When I say that the visual presentation of Kamikaze knocked my socks off as soon as I opened that front cover, I really mean it. No, I mean I literally saw my socks explode from my feet and into the sky (I’m outdoors, ya know?). Then I fainted. When I woke up I was still in mild shock, and the rest of the day is somewhat of a blur. In other words, the artwork in this book is simply tremendous; it is easily one of the best drawn and colored books I have seen in a long time, but that’s only the icing on the Kamikaze cake.
Kamikaze does an excellent job of drawing readers in almost immediately when they are dropped right smack in the middle of a chase scene between Jackal, a member of Orson Stykes’ crew, and his pursuers. It seems that Stykes is after a mysterious container and it’s up to Jackal to obtain it. The dangerous nature of this mission means that someone might get hurt, and unfortunately this time around it’s Jackal. And he gets hurt bad. Okay, he dies, happy? This is where Kamikaze starts to open up, and we meet Markesha, a young girl who works as a “runner” in Outer Trinity to support herself and her father.
The character of Markesha and her home, Outer Trinity, really reminded me of some of the aspects of the Star Wars universe. Firstly, Markesha is living in poverty in a dangerous city that she desperately wants to escape, while Outer Trinity itself really gives off a “Tatooine/Mos Eisley” vibe. The creative team of Kamikaze do a fantastic job of breathing life into each panel and the city really is a character all on its own. From characters like the shifty Franco, who employs Markesha and sends her on dangerous delivery runs, to underlying tensions due to crime and violence, Outer Trinity is expertly crafted. This is not to say that the creative team behind Kamikaze are lifting content directly from Star Wars, but rather this all adds up to what could be a very well done tribute to everyone’s favorite space opera; a damn good homage, and one that this writer appreciates.
The whole “test run scenario” with Markesha and Franco is particularly well executed. It can sometimes be difficult to convey action effectively in the pages of a comic book without things falling flat, but in Kamikaze the action is consistently exciting and fun to look at. I can’t say enough about how well the creative team put everything together in this book; it’s just that good.
Markesha’s end game is to earn enough money to get herself and her father out of Outer Trinity and into the “South American Democratic Protectorate,” or the “SADP” for short. The SADP promises a better life and the medical facilities needed to help treat Markesha’s father. The problem is that in order to do this, Markesha must continually put herself in harm’s way, performing dangerous night runs that earn her enough money to barely scrape by.
When Franco gives Markesha a “no questions asked” mission, it lands her right into Orson Stykes’ lap and she unwittingly delivers a ticking time bomb (literally) to Orson’s crews’ facility. Not surprisingly, the whole base exploding thing perturbs Orson just a bit and we are treated to yet another incredibly well thought out chase scene. Markesha’s expertise in evading Orson’s pursuit impresses him so much that he decides to take her in as Jackal’s replacement (remember him?), but not before Orson decides to take out one of his own men by shooting him in the face. What’s going on with Orson?
The ending pages of Kamikaze: Volume 1 really got me excited for more. What was in that strange container that Orson was after? What will become of Markesha and her father when she begins to embark on even more dangerous missions for Orson? Why did Orson suddenly kill one of his own men? The entire story is full of intrigue, and that is how good comics are made and keep readers coming back for more. Lots more.
For more information about Kamikaze and its creative team, check out the official website here. Then head on over to the official Kickstarter page and give a little, would ya? Kamikaze is proving to be successful on the crowd-funding circuit, and if the team earn enough money we should be seeing a lot more from this book. I know I’ve got my fingers crossed.
What did you think of Kamikaze: Volume 1? Did it explode your socks into outer space like it did to ours? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!