“DAOMU” #1 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on Feb 13, 2011

From Image Comics and Concept Art House, DAOMU #1 kicks off to a great start with its mystery-building suspense. Reality comes crashing down on a young man as he stumbles onto the dark underworld of grave robbers. Tension escalates when our reluctant hero confronts ghosts from the past, bloodthirsty creatures and men with guns.

A secret society named Daomu has been operating stealthily from the shadows. These caretakers are involved in maintaining the delicate balance between man and nature. As protectors of the graveyards, they must keep, at all costs, the tomb’s secrets hidden. The guardians existed in harmony, but have now been corrupted. A civil war exists within the collective group; those who want to help the world and those who want to own it.

Abandoned and ignored by his biological father, Sean was forced to grow up by himself. The orphan unexpectedly receives a call from his missing parent, asking to meet with him. During their long-awaited reunion, Sean becomes bitterly uncomfortable sitting in front of his father at the Sheldon’s Roadhouse diner. The reunited father and son do not realize someone else is listening in on their conversation.

Patiently waiting outside in the rain, the man in the hood has a demonic face with fanged teeth and glowing red eyes. Just before Sean’s father can explain why he abandoned his son, the cloaked figure starts shooting. Diner patrons quickly drop to the floor as a storm of bullets shatter the windows.

Sean suddenly reaches out to his father, who has been fatally shot. The man in the hood slowly advances, with his gun pointed directly at them. Surprisingly, an unknown stranger jumps to Sean’s rescue and blasts the hideous shooter. Even though his head is missing, the demonic gunman is still walking and waving his gun around. Amidst the deafening gunfire, Sean listens closely to his father, who uses his dying breath to reveal forbidden secrets.

Based on the bestselling DAOMU JOURNAL novels, authors Kennedy Xu and Colin Johnson mix the horror imagery with Chinese mythology. The narrative is told from Sean’s cynical and self-righteous perspective. By delving into Sean’s emotionally-driven narration, readers can understand what the reluctant hero has been going through. Confused and angry all his life, Sean doesn’t know where he belongs, but he fights back recklessly in order to unleash his rage.

The writing duo’s storytelling is enhanced by the distinctive digital artwork. Using the weather as background, artist Ken Chou captures the bleak mood through pouring rain and never-ending snow. The best part of the comic is the shootout at Sheldon’s Roadhouse, which intensifies with a high-speed car chase. When Sean sees his father dying, his facial expressions are heightened through Chou’s tight and extreme close-ups.

DAOMU #1 is a dark and bloody supernatural thriller with slick artwork. Readers are left with numerous questions in the last page. What kind of trouble has Sean been put in by his long-lost father? Available now; don’t be left out of the mystery!