Friday Reviews: One-Word Titles

Every Friday I review two books or comic books (a lot from NetGalley). For today’s review post we have two titles by the team of J. D. Morvan and Bengal taking on a new perspective of international assassins and giant robot pilots.

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Naja

Writer – J. D. Morvan | Artists – Bengal

NajaCoverNaja is the number three assassin in her organization, led by the mysterious zero who she has never met. She’s given a target, money, everything she needs to carry out her next assignment and hop on the next private plane. And she feels no physical pain whatsoever. None until she is tied up by a mysterious figure who tells her her life is in jeopardy. The #1 assassin in their little group believes Naja is trying to kill him, and is responding in kind.

What follows is a bloody trail of death with Naja trying to protect herself from #1. First step, find out his identity which involves breaking her childhood friend out of prison. For the first time Naja has felt pain and doesn’t know the road ahead, and she loves it.

It took me a while to get drawn into this story. I’m not a fan of narrated stories and the artwork can be cold and thin at times, though this also suits the tone of the story well. Get a little further in and you are treated to a twisted tale and action worthy of the next Bourne movie. The ending, however, is well … really screwed up given everything that has come before, and also a little bit confusing. I won’t spoil it for you, except to say that if you knew where this was going you might not want to finish it.

Bengal captures each of the international locations well, and Naja is drawn as cold and emotionless as she is supposed to be, making the few times she smiles all the more intriguing. The other assassins are interesting characters as well, if a bit genre archetypes. You are bound to be surprised at every turn. Probably not a lot like other things you’ve read and the artwork and colors are really excellent, but not for everyone.

(3 stars | Not for everybody)

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Meka

Writer – J. D. Morvan | Artists – Bengal

MekaCoverIn Meka, a pilot and repair technician of a giant robot are stranded in enemy territory after a battle and are forced to survive. Throughout they question the point of their battling and what has brought them to this point, while trying to survive among the collateral damage of their fight. This is a story not just of brave pilots, but the hundreds of people affected by their actions in war.

I really liked this story, a tightly focused human story based around a common Anime trope. From a technical perspective the way the technician slid around the robot was kind of intriguing, though much of the rest of the action is so frenetic its a little difficult to get a sense of what is going on. This works well in a fog of war situation and what we are shown clearly is the devastation of the fight.

The robot takes a step and crushes a pedestrian unable to get away. An enemy robot is destroyed and pieces of it crash into an office building. Later on in a tense gunfight we are treated to a page of life flashing before our eyes of each person shot. This is the kind of stuff that is barely even implied in most giant-robot fighting stories.

Bengal’s artwork is well suited to this setting, and while the story is far less bloody it is not less devastating. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little abrupt and inconclusive, though again many stories of this type are. A good story for those who like sci-fi and anime and questions about the impact of war.

(4 stars | Worth the read)

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