Indie Comic Review: The Immortal

THe Immortal: Demon in the Blood by Ian Edginton and Vicenç Villagrasa -Dark Horse Comics – $14.99

Comics can be a lot like pastries. They may look good, but it isn’t until you actually dig in to them that you find out if they are actually as good as you had hoped. Unfortunately, when consuming Immortal the pretty packaging fell apart and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

After a swordfight, Amane, a young samurai with a haunted past, is left for dead—only to be saved by a mysterious tattooist who imbues Amane with the immortal spirit of an oni demon. From that day on, Amane ages no more.

Amane learns of another with a similar oni—one that requires its host to kill—which leads Amane to the realization that the “other” is the man who murdered his sister years ago. But when his decades-long quest for the murderer causes him to cross paths with a maniacal serial killer intent on murdering the woman Amane loves, the only one who can help him is the man who killed his sister.

The solicitation info makes The Immortal sound far more complex and interesting than it actually is. The first paragraph of the text comprises the first fifteen pages or so of the book. The storytelling in this section is so clunky and jumps forward so quickly that there is no time for any understanding by the reader as to what is actually happening. It is not until later that the elements start to come together and the reader actually is able to figure out that the scenes at the beginning of the book are connected in any way.

The second paragraph of the solicitation text comprises the last twenty pages or so of the book. So, then, what then comprises the other 60 pages of the book? Filler. Amane does some tattoo work. Amane saves a man who used to be his enemy. Amane protects a woman. But the story does not move forward. Most of the pages in the middle of the book could have been cut out or pared down and the story would not have missed them.

The Immortal is an adaptation of a Japanese novel. Like most adaptations, the person doing the adapting has to decide what pieces to include and what pieces to excise. Unfortunately it looks like writer Ian Edginton chose to recreate particular scenes from the novel without much regard for character arc or story narrative. After reading the book there is no clear understanding of any character motivations. More is revealed in the final two pages about the “antagonist” than were revealed in the entire other 88 pages of the book. It is ineffective writing and has completely turned me off from any future installments of this project.

The art by Vicenç Villagrasa is serviceable at first but breaks down in the end. His individual character rendering is good and borders on superb from time to time. However, in one of the climactic battles it was impossible to tell the difference between the combatants. Both were asian with shoulder-length hair and no discernable differences in their body shapes. Even the dialogue was of no help. So, the scene which should have been a dramatic showdown was a confusing mess and robbed the climax of any lasting impact.

The Immortal sounded like an interesting concept full of unique characters set in an interesting time period. However that tasty looking exterior ended up being just a bunch of bland filler. If you are interested in seeing for yourself, you can check out a four page preview here.

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