Wrath of the Cursed #1 (Self Published)
Stories: Matt Kyme
Lettering: Graeme Jackson (Issue #1 – Story one), Matt Kyme (Issue #1 – Story 2)
Art: Matt Kyme (Wrath of the Cursed Part 1) Angie Spice (Fear the Cursed)
Variant Cover: Graeme Jackson
Advance Comics favourite Matt Kyme (The Demon, Bullet Proof Kid) returns with Wrath of the Cursed, a tale of violence, vengeance and intrigue in the vein of classic Japanese Samurai Manga.
The first issue of this new ongoing series introduces us to the Cursed, the skull faced assassin and executioner to the powerful and arrogant feudal lord of Kubesh. The Cursed is as a living ghost, a man whose name is spoken only in fearful whispers. A man whose blade has claimed a 100 lives. He exists only to impose his lord’s will on the people of Kubesh. The people grow weary of feudal oppression and rise up in rebellion against their rulers. But the wrath and righteousness of the peasants of Kubesh is not enough and their uprising is struck down like so much spring wheat leaving only the titular ghost faced killer standing.
The Wrath of the Cursed draws from much the same well of genre fiction as the Demon, Kyme’s love letter to pulp super hero strips. The river of blood which connects the Demon to the Cursed springs from the Chanbara tradition of samurai fiction which has produced such classics as Lone Wolf and Cub and Samurai Executioner.
This influence shines through in the transformation of Kyme’s art style where the traditional four panel newspaper strips of the Demon evolve into bold black and white depictions of a fantastic world inspired of feudal Japan. The hatching, shading and ink work is especially evocative of that classic samurai style.
The high point of the lead story in this issue for me is the duel sequences where Kyme uses tight camera work in his panel composition and page layout to create a sense of tension, fluid motion and violent kinetic action.
The back up story which fills out this monster 40 page first issue jumps us forward to a more modern era with a setting which mirrors a port city like Shanghai or Hong Kong in the late 1960s. This story, which takes place in a dive bar full of scum and villainy now sees the Cursed exist only in the myth, legend and superstition of rogues, pirates and scoundrels. The anime inspired art of Angie Spice creates a tone and feel reminiscent of the pirate adventures of One Piece or Studio Ghibli films like Porco Rosso or the Lupin series.
The contrast of the two stories of The Cursed as man and myth reminds me of world of Matt Wagner’s Grendel where the similarly shadowy figure ripples through the centuries as some kind of immortal force manifesting as masked lord of the Underworld Hunter Rose, Divine Fool Eppy Thatcher and All conquering hero Orion Assante. We can only hope that subsequent issues continue to expand on this world building offer more peaks into the history, legend and legacy of the Cursed.
The Wrath of the Cursed is a welcome and wonderful return to comics for Matt Kyme. He stretches his story telling skills in this first issue and shows a talent for pacing, drama and design that wasn’t on display in the Demon. Spice’s more rounded and cartoon inspired art also serves as a great contrast to Kyme’s more strong and stark style.
Wrath of the Cursed is highly recommended for fans of samurai stories both on the big screen and the printed page.
Putting that to a side Wrath of the Cursed is a bargain at just $5 Australian for this 40 page issue. You can buy your copy right now through the Ownaindi Australian comic book market place and follow Wrath of the Cursed on Facebook for info and updates.