Nambul: War Stories Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: CPM Press
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 312
  • ISBN: 158664917-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Nambul: War Stories Vol. #01

By Mike Dungan     August 13, 2004
Release Date: July 01, 2004

Nambul: War Stories Vol.#01
© CPM Press

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hyun Se Lee
Translated by:Chul-Hyun Ahn
Adapted by:

What They Say
Ode to Emptiness... The clouds of war are growing thicker. As the second Middle Eastern war drives the world economy toward another crisis, Japan invades Indonesia in search of a new source of oil.. Forces are deployed, and secret alliances are made. Worst of all, urban violence explodes onto the the streets of Tokyo as the leader of a Korean street gang murders a Yakuza boss on camera. Now, with the evidence of his violent act captured on tape, his life is about to change forever.

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hae-Sung is the leader of a band of street punks, riding high powered sports motorcycles through the streets of Tokyo, causing trouble whereever he goes. A Korean living in Japan, he lives at home with his single father, a powerful and intimidating man who runs a laundry, and his sister, who dreams of making it big as a singer or dancer some day. Hae-Sung's older brother Yusung has assimilated to life in Japan quite well. He's a successful foreign exchange broker, becoming one of the richest men in Japan, and his wealth keeps Hae-Sung out of prison. Yusung even has a Japanese wife, a child, and has adopted a Japanese name, Hideo. None of this sits well with his father, who is Korean all the way to his soul. The fact that Yusung dumped a very good Korean woman, Uhmji, to marry a Japanese woman, just makes it worse. Uhmji, who goes by the Japanese name Rie, has started her life over, and now works as a traffic cop. Just to complicate things, Hae-sung loves Uhmji, though he can't do anything about it. Against this family drama are the winds of war. The second Middle East war had begun. Saddam Hussein has reinvaded Kuwait, and this time, it's working. Iraqi forces have pushed well down into Saudi Arabia, and many in the royal house are fleeing. Oil prices worldwide are skyrocketing, and a few members of the Japanese military are plotting ways to find more oil, by military means if necessary. An enormous oil deposit in Indonesia could supply Japan's needs for the next 50 years if only they could secure the rights. Deftly manipulated by two Army officers with dreams of reviving Japan's once great military power, Japan throws it's support behind a little-known seperatist group in exchange for the oil rights. Unfortunately, there are 2000 Korean oilworkers already there, and now they are being held by the paramilitary force now in place. Korean officials dispatch a special-ops soldier, Baek, to determine their fate and assess the situation. In the midst of all this world tension, a turf war between Hae-Sung's motorcycle gang and the local yakuza results in Hae-Sung murdering the yakuza boss. Worse, it's captured by a female reporter on camera.

This book should be quite controversial for both Japanese and Korean readers. The artist, Hyun Se Lee, is quite successful and well-known in Korea, and this story is his attempt to deal with his feelings about the long standing antagonism between Korea and Japan. There is a very telling two-page Author's Notes in the back of the book in which he asks why it's easier to forgive the Russians for shooting down a civilian Korean airliner only a few years ago, than to forgive the Japanese for invading Korea more than 400 years ago. Written in 1993, the world events in this story are clearly not possible, knowing what we know now about the state of Saddam Hussein's military forces and his own lack of tactical and strategic leadership. However, taken out of historical context and viewed merely as a literary device to create the world tensions necessary to tell his story, it's quite effective.

Lee's art is a very interesting mix of the cartoonishness of Sergio Arragones, the comedy of Ozamu Tezuka, and the sharp dramatic tension of Frank Miller. Although his characters can seem oddly proportioned from time to time, he uses cross-hatching to great effect, creating scenes of dynamic power. Character expressions are sharp and strong, and the action flows smoothly across the page.

The cover is an image of a soldier in a full olive-drab chemical-suit against a brown background, with the title in a military stencil style. The back cover continues the brown using a couple of images of war from the book. The art reproduction is quite reasonable, looking good even when a lot of screentoning is being used. The extras include 4 pages of character introductions, a biography of Hyun Se Lee, and the aforementioned Author's Notes. At 312 pages, it's also quite a bargain. For someone looking for a different war story, or who is interested in exploring one Korean's feelings about the relationship between Japan and Korea, this book is a must-read.


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