Every week I read at least one comic that reaffirms why I love the medium, which makes it bearable to occasion across crap like the second issue of Masumi: Blades of Sin. Like its titular character, Masumi feels like a comic displaced in time, hailing from the 90’s when Rob Liefield and his acolytes drew every woman with gravity-defying breasts and spent little to no time in crafting an interesting story while investing hours into creating a slew of variant covers. Masumi: Blades of Sin catches up with Masumi back in Tokyo following her defeat of the demon Legion and its consequent absorption into her samurai swords. On vacation to see her descendent, Masumi uncovers a Yakuza plot to align themselves with ancient Japanese demons in order to expand their power. This issue is mostly one extended fight sequence where Masumi fights against five Yakuza members possessed by dragon demons. As Masumi hacks her way through them, she talks to her possessed blades, which shine like toy lightsabers, altering their color for no discernible reason. At the fight’s end, Masumi returns to her cousin before the issue ends on what’s meant to be a tragic note.
In trying to come up with something positive to say about this comic, I went through a random list of comic elements that can make a book shine despite its weaknesses. Character wise the comic is a mess. Masumi hunts demons with the use of demon blades, and that’ it. In the issue’s brawl we never get the sense that she struggles to win, and despite Legion’s insistence that she cares too much about human life, she quickly abandons such concerns in order to destroy the dragon demons. Similarly, the Yakuza gang completely lacks any personality. They’re only bad because the script requires them to be, and the absence of a potential endgame makes it tough to care about who lives and dies. In terms of its story, Masumi never surprises. I could divine the beats of every page even down to the ‘shocking’ cliffhanger.
The artwork here astounds me in its laziness, backgrounds absent, and character designs recycled ad nauseam. I could go on a diatribe about the sexist depiction of Masumi throughout the comic, but it wouldn’t be worth your time. I had hoped that comics like these were now extinct, but I guess there’s some sad demographic that buys enough of them to merit their continued existence. Before this I had never read anything from Zenescope Entertainment, and if this issue is any indication, I don’t think I’m missing out on anything.
Writer: Joe Tyler Artist: Sergio Osuna Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/3/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital