This may sound like backhanded praise, but 'G: Honor and Curse' is the most generic comic book I've actually enjoyed reading in a while. I'll be honest, I have zero interest in this kind of story, the stock anime influenced Western martial arts tropes are played straight and plain here with zero deviation, and historically I've been disappointed in bigger budgeted attempts at the same thing like 'Afro Samurai'. That said, 'G: Honor and Curse' for one reason or another didn't bore me like some of it's more polished brethren have. It's almost mysterious.
Genshi is a troubled but talented ninja, training in a mountain dojo, favored by his masters but haunted by disturbing visions and forbidden desires. As 80% of the book is a flashback, we know tragedy is coming, but the mystery behind the malevolent power-granting darkness lurking in Genshi's soul is only teased here. Mark London's script hits every cliché on the way down, but his pacing is solid and unchanging, keeping exposition succinct and the story chugging along. It's like a soap opera where everyone has been doing it long enough that everything falls into place naturally; there's no surprises but you can find yourself kind of entertained despite it. It feels so hypocritical when I rip into so many books for stories that don't really justify being retold due to redundancy, but the less 'G' tries to reinvent the wheel the more it works. Take that for what you will.
Artist Andy King helps a lot, lending the book just enough visual flair to be readable. It's far from flawless art. King's talent comes out best when he's drawing dramatic images like the manifestations spectral entity latched on to Genshi or ninjas training under the torrential force of a waterfall. Whenever the book slows down however, the art suffers, as his faces and expressions fluctuate in quality, making the acting that isn't done with dramatic body language the weakest parts visually. If there is a standout talent in the book it's Micheal Camelo, whose vibrant color work keeps the art feeling consistent, even when the pages vary in detail and compositional clarity. He lends the book a lot and is one of the strongest hands behind the overall professional quality of the presentation.
Do I care what happens next in 'G: Honor and Curse'. No. The story doesn't have an original hook to excuse the wealth of cliché and Western ninja stories are a dime a dozen in comics. However, if there had been more pages I would have kept reading. I wasn't bored and while I can't quite pinpoint exactly why that was, the overall professional presentation and competency makes this one of the better genuinely indie action books I've picked up in a while. If you're the kind of person who loves trope heavy Western martial arts media then I'm the wrong person to ask the opinion of, but the best I can say is I'd recommend it to you. It doesn't pretend to be more than a simple familiar story, and in this case it works.
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