The final battle between Batu and the General’s Bodyguard will end with only the victor walking away! Well, actually more like hobbling away.
Writer/Artist: Park Joong-Ki
Translation: Jay So
Adaptation: Jay So
What They Say
The corrupt forces of the Kugai Empire have sworn to destroy all shaman warriors, the mystical, animalistic killing machines who once led their armies. With her hereditary powers still untapped, Yaki holds her own, and her sword-fighting and stealthy assassin skills help her carve a bloody path to the heartless general who ordered the death of her father -- the great shaman leader Yarong. Picking up right where our last volume's cliffhanger left us, Batu's showdown with Yuda -- the Death Lord who defeated Yarong -- reaches its explosive conclusion, and Nejo claws his way from the grave to a dangerous desert town in his search for Yaki.
Batu is in the battle of his life with the General’s Bodyguard, and things are not going well. Every time the two clash and separate, Batu steps back with more injuries than his opponent. This series has shown the reader plenty of bloody battles, but this one seems to go on forever. A short flashback to a sparing practice between Batu and Yaki’s father reminds Batu that running away from a losing battle allows the coward to fight another day. Unfortunately, at this point Batu is so injured I don’t think he could flee if he wanted to.
Yaki and Batu’s failed attempt to assassinate Kugai’s General has stirred the village into an ant nest. Soldiers swarm every city block and Yaki is having a difficult time finding Batu in the confusion. When she finally finds him, she leaps to his aid. While Yaki is a badass assassin, the General’s Bodyguard is so big that her attacks do relatively little damage. It is almost like watching a fox attack a pissed off bull.
Just about the time I figure Batu and Yaki are both dead, Genji arrives with her bombs. Ah yeah, now the General’s Bodyguard is dead! But all this time has allowed the foot soldiers to close in and now Batu, Yaki, and Genji are trying to fight off a hoard of soldiers and the relatively uninjured General’s Bodyguard. A last ditch effort leaves Genji running away, dragging the reluctant Yaki behind her, and Batu pulling a kamikaze maneuver. Batu straps all of Genji’s remaining explosives to himself and grabs the General’s Bodyguard in a bear hug. Only one man will walk away from this.
The remaining two-thirds of this volume follows a variety of secondary characters as the different political factions jockey for position. While the Manutu Clan try to recruit men to their side in the upcoming battle against Kugai, the General’s men try to bribe those same men to betray the Manutu Clan. In the end, who will these middle men betray, Kugai or the Manutu Clan?
A few of Dark Horse’s manhwa titles have been on hold for quite awhile. Fans have really been left in the dark as to whether these series would die an untimely death or eventually be given the chance to run their course. After some months, Dark Horse has employed a new Korean translator and brought back the next volume of ‘Shaman Warrior’. This gives me hope that ‘XS Hybrid’ will also be resurrected.
As for this volume of ‘Shaman Warrior’, I appreciated the color pages in the beginning and the continued quality of this release. The story continues to dance the line of enthralling and confusing. The number of characters and long wait between volumes left me struggling to remember who was who and what they were doing. Besides that annoyance, the outcome of Batu’s battle with the General’s Bodyguard has dire consequences for Yaki and Genji. Both women love Batu, one as an equal and the other as a father figure. Will both women be left emotionally broken at the end of Batu’s battle, or will it give one of the women renewed fire to destroy Kugai? Only another volume will tell.