The Forty-Five was an ambitious project. Forty-five new characters were introduced in single splash pages paired with magazine-style interviews that filled in their back story. The Blue Spear is the first of three planned graphic novels which expand and build upon the world created by the Forty-Five graphic novel.
A guardian watches over Tokyo. Nobody knows where he came from. Some say he was created by the Yurei, ghosts of the sea, sent to remind mortals that it is they, not men, that control mankind’s fate. Loved by many, vilified by few – he exacts swift justice on those who stand against him. Whatever he is, wherever he came from, one thing is certain – BlueSpear is here to stay!
I think I should begin by stating that I did not read Forty-Five. Not that I wasn’t interested…It just was not available at my LCS. However, once I learned that everything that has been written about Blue Spear in Forty-Five was included in this comic, I felt confident that I would have everything I needed. I was wrong.
As Jim Shooter is fond of stating, every comic should serve as a person’s first issue…ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS THE FIRST ISSUE OF A BOOK! there are certain things that need to be established: Character names, powers, and relationships to begin with. In the two pages which were included in the Forty-Five graphic novel, we learn that The Blue Spear is named Yuji Tomikawa. He has a younger brother, Akira Tomikawa, whom he watches over from a distance. We know that The Blue Spear has some connection to the water, but we are uncertain what his powers are. That is not a bad start. However, that is all the information we receive for quite some time!
There are two groups of people after The Blue Spear, but we are never quite sure why. One group is an organization in Japan where the hired muscle wear fish masks. Looking through the gallery at the end of the book, we learn that they are the Yakuza, yet they are never named and we don’t know exactly why they are after the Blue Spear. We can assume it has something to do with some flashback scenes where the Blue Spear is fighting the fish-faced goons, but there is no context for the fight.
The other group of people hunting the Blue Spear appear to be working for a government agency called Xodus. What was particularly frustrating was that two of these characters were in the book more than any other character (including the Blue Spear) but the woman (Lotus) is not named until page 31, and the man (X) is not named until page 35. would it kill them to use each other’s name in a conversation? Neither one of them ever have their powers explained. While it is pretty clear that Lotus can manipulate minds, there are some other powers she displays that are not so easily defined. The third member of their group is never named, his powers are never explained, and he is the linchpin of their plan (which is never fully explained)!
In short, the story is a hot mess. There is too much happening without any kind of explanation. When I was done reading, I was left scratching my head wondering what had just happened and what it all meant. Writer Andi Ewington may have it all planned out in his head, but it would be nice if he shared it with the readers!
What I was not confused about was my love of the art. Cosmo White’s art is something special. His figures are powerful and dynamic while moving with grace and agility. Each panel works on its own as a piece of art, while contributing to the larger story. The colors and light appear to be filtered through a pool of water regardless of whether or not the action takes place on land or sea. This adds an other-worldly quality to the art that I found very pleasing, and the splash page 12 took my breath away. Cosmo White is a name I will be on the lookout for!
I would have loved to have seen more of the Blue Spear since his look and disguise are so unique. In his disguised form, he walks the streets as a monk – most of his body covered by robes and a large hat. In his Blue Spear form he is almost alien, with aqua skin and webbed hands and feet. It is a fantastic contrast and so visually interesting.
The Blue Spear is not a great stand-alone book. There is a large back-story here that is not revealed to the reader which means that we are left in the dark. This is unfortunate because I believe that The Blue Spear has so much potential for storytelling. Hopefully the next graphic novel will be an improvement!