Priest Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, April 24, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Translated by:Jessica Kim
What They Say
Before Ivan Isaacs became the undead pilgrim who battles Temozarela's forces, he was just a mortal man with the usual human failings. Orphaned at an early age, Ivan was adopted by Jacob Isaacs, a wealthy frontiersman who wanted his only daughter, Jenna, to have a companion. In the solitude of the Isaacs' homestead, the two siblings developed stronger feelings than their father or society would allow. To escape from his desire, Ivan entered seminary, where he found a new interest: the study of ancient religions. Nine years later, Father Ivan Isaacs is still haunted by memories of his true love. But a new figure has begun appearing in his dreams - a knight Templar, a holy defender of the crusades. Now Ivan stands at a crossroads. One path leads to ancient demons, the other to a forbidden love. Whichever path he chooses will certainly lead to damnation.
Another great original piece of cover artwork from Tokyopop, featuring the crusader Vascar De Guillon, who is an interesting choice for a cover as he doesn’t show up until the last few pages of the book. The logo is similar to the Korean version, just a bit more refined and of different color, along the top of the cover. The back cover features a disturbing image of a man who has carved pagan symbols into his skin and is laying face down. The summary is written in a font that adds to the whole occult/gothic feel of the book. It is a wonderful presentation that fits this story perfectly. There are no extras and the chapter/volume headers are present. The print job is nicely done, especially when you consider the heavy black tones that are frequently used in the artwork.
Once again, Hyung brings to life a wonderful Wild West setting mixed with lots of religious imagery. I love the western landscapes that he presents as it really gives places me in the story. There is not a lot of action sequences here, but even with the scenes with galloping horses I am able to hear those hooves pounding on the dirt. The angled-off designs fit the type of story perfectly, adding a western roughness and giving a rustic feel that is very appropriate.
The SFX are left untouched and not translated. The SFX are very minimal and I did not find myself wanting to know a translation, but a small glossary would have been nice. The dialogue is translated wonderfully. There are a few places where Latin is spoken and it is kept as Latin. Also present is what I believe is some sort of Middle Eastern dialogue that is also left as is, which is on purpose. The mood of the story is very serious in tone and the dialogue of the characters reflects that.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
“This book…it changes everything,” says Father Simon as he begins reading the record of Ivan Isaac’s nightmares, learning about the fallen priest who lost everything, including half his soul, to get his vengeance. Min-Woo Hyung once again masterfully changes the setting to a time where we meet a young, healthy Ivan Isaacs who is fresh out of seminary school and awaiting assignment. Ivan is visiting the ranch he grew up on, raised by his adoptive father who has since passed away. The ranch is now under the control of his adoptive sister Gina, a forbidden love, who has been waiting for Ivan to come back home for nine years.
Hyung weaves at least 3 periods of time together to create a rich and informative background story that explains the history of Ivan. While Ivan is revisiting the ranch and dealing with his feelings for Gina, there are flashbacks to Ivan and Gina growing up. I really enjoyed how Hyung revealed information from the past at the right times to have an impact with how the story was unfolding while Ivan was visiting Gina. Over the top of this is a running narrative by Ivan which are the words from his diary as being read by Father Simon. It’s all done quite seamlessly and really makes for quite an immersive read that I couldn’t help but get caught up in and become completely engrossed. It is also great to this forbidden love take shape, as it now becomes clear to what Ivan’s motivations were in earlier volumes when he was an undead priest hell-bent on revenge.
Ivan isn’t back at home long when he gets a visit from Father Raul Piestro who is a member of Saint Vertinez, otherwise known as a secret organization within the Church that only answers to the Pope himself. They are in charge with doing research on heretics and exposing their trespasses. Father Piestro wants Ivan to go with them to do research on a new pagan artifact called, Domas Porada. This mysterious artifact caused the previous head research person to kill off his entire team as well as himself. There’s a great evil contained within and it is up to Ivan to uncover its true meaning. The reading of this story gets quite intense as the mysteries are revealed. We already know what happens to Ivan, but since such work was taken with building up the human side of Ivan, waiting for his imminent doom becomes quite a nail-biting read. I now care about Ivan and who he is, knowing what happens to him without the details creates a great suspense that fits the horror side of this story perfectly.
As the past of Ivan Isaacs is revealed, pieces of the puzzle to his life start to click into place. No longer is Ivan a crazed, undead demon out for a revenge, but now he has a human face with emotions that helps flush out some depth with his character. The narration over the top of the story gives a great sense of foreboding, which just adds a level of tension to the reading. There isn’t a lot of action in this volume, but the information is rich and the pace is wonderful as Hyung webs different time periods into quite an engaging story. Add in some great artwork that really brings out the western, rustic setting and this becomes quite a treat to read. Very much recommended.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Left to Right