XS Hybrid Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59307-628-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: XS Hybrid

XS Hybrid Vol. #01

By Matthew Alexander     June 28, 2007
Release Date: June 06, 2007


XS Hybrid Vol.#01
© Dark Horse


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Song Ji-Hyung
Translated by:N/A
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
In a strange future where gifted, "hybrid" humans police the planet, Mina is a likeable tomboy with growing psychic powers. When a young boy falls into a coma after gazing into her eyes, it's clear that there's more to Mina than her pretty looks. This young boy, Huin Chang, grows up to be quite a daredevil, and his awkward, secret love for Mina fuels his protective fire when mysterious men arrive, bringing the violence of the "hybrid" world with them!

The Review
A skateboarder finds himself in 'Akira'-like bike chase scenes while battling everyone from street punks to Hybrids, to American secret agents, all the while trying to protect his friend Mina. Oh, and hitting some punk while poppin-a-wheely on his street bike looks like it would seriously jack someone up.

Packaging:
The front cover depicts the protagonist, Chang, wearing his bike gloves and goggles. I like the way the background is solid blue and the 'XS' at the top is part of the background, with 'Hybrid' in white. For the most part the print quality is good, everything is level and nothing is cut short. However, some of the panels are a little on the dark side. Extras consist of a few descriptions of abbreviated terms found in the gutters and a list of definitions at the end of the story. There is also a comic from the author discussing this book and his staff.

Artwork:
The character design, at least for Chang, reminds me a little of 'Akira'. The plethora of chase scenes with Chang on his street bike and one with other punks chasing him definitely seems to have an 'Akira' influence. The drawings are serious and dynamic, but Chang goes SD when he freaks out over something, which reminds me of Oh! Great's art style. I like the character designs and the high amount of detail on the hair. My only real complaint is for the blank faces on background characters. The backgrounds are sparse but the panel layout works well with the flow of action, which relies heavily on speed lines. One detail I was impressed with was the continuity of Chang's face bandages after he gets hurt, which flows for three quarters of this volume.

Text/SFX:
This story contains a lot of SFX, which is presented unmodified with smaller English translations positioned alongside and nicely mimicking the original text. The translation is fairly well done with believable instances of profanity without being overdone like some other books I've read before. However there were some instances where it felt like a word was missing, causing that particular bit of dialogue to be a little rough. There did not appear to be any misspellings. I'm a little confused about some of the terms that felt like Americanization's, however it may be how the author wrote it. The reason I say this is because the first portion of the story takes place in America with a lot of U.S. government agency terminology and when those agents go to Korea, they are driving around in a brand new Cadillac. So the author may just be familiar with American media and know some slang terms. However, when Chang calls cops 'pigs' I thought that was maybe out of place, but when the Americans called the cops 'pigs' I thought it was completely in context.

Contents: (Watch out, spoilers upcoming)
Chang has a special connection with his friend Mina. He first met her at age eleven, and somehow when he looked into her eyes he fell into a coma for three days. When he woke up all his memories were gone. Now they are both in high school together and have been good friends since meeting each other. This is where the story is a little unique because it switches from Chang's POV to that of a Korean national, named Slash, in the U.S. Slash is being chased by the American government who calls him a 'Hybrid' because he has strange powers that allow him to either teleport, become intangible, or distort his opponents vision (I can't figure this one out). Then the story switches to the POV of a street punk in Korea who has a weaker type of power like Slash's.

All three characters go about their own storyline until Chang and the punk get into an argument on the road and the punk chases Chang, who is going to meet Mina. When the punk sees Mina, he chases after her and demands she gives him something. Mina doesn't know what he's talking about but then something in her turns on and her vision becomes VR like with the word 'ACCESS' in her vision. Chang intervenes (Mina's vision goes back to normal) and the punk kicks his ass until the cops show up. This turns into a cat and mouse game between the punk and Mina until Slash shows up in Korea. It turns out that Slash's brain was invaded by an alien life form that stays dormant until it feels threatened, and then it can manipulate its host to survive the situation. To make matters more confusing, Slash refers to Chang as 'J', as if he knows him. Then on two different occasions, Chang hears a voice in his head and his body acts on its own to escape some hair-raising situations while racing through the streets on his bike.

The entire story is still unclear by the end of the volume. It seems that Slash (being chased by the U.S. government) either has been completely taken over by his alien parasite to become a true Hybrid or has figured out how to coexist with it. Chang seems to have a parasite of his own that has helped him survive a couple narrow escapes already, and Mina is an enigma. She doesn't seem to be a Hybrid, but she is important to Slash. Is she carrying something that will help the aliens? Is she like a queen alien or something? Don't know, but I'm curious to see where this is going.

Comments
Chang is into skateboarding and his bike, but he doesn't seem to be an all out punk, which is refreshing. However, he is quick to fight anyone that threatens Mina. So far the story seems to be building up to some big revelations in volume two, especially after Mina's dad looked at Slash like he recognized him. I enjoyed the way the author used Chang, the punk with weak hybrid powers, and Slash as separate storylines before bringing them together in conflict with each other, the Korean police, and secret agents from the U.S. government. The art is enjoyable with clean character poses and speed lined/rough action panels. The translation has some questionable American slang terms, but not being able to read the original, I have no idea if these were manipulated or not.

To nitpick, one complaint I had, is when the American agents are trying to capture Chang. They try to shoot him in the head, and then later during the chase scene the Americans say they just need to get his brain. What? If you need his brain, why would you try to shoot him in the back of his head? Other than that, the story shows promise, but only time will tell.

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