by Kagan McLeod
I've never been a huge fan of the Shaw Brothers style of kung fu movies (although I did become somewhat obsessed with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when it came out), but I loved Kagan McLeod's Infinite Kung Fu, a nice chunky graphic novel love letter to that genre.
This book is set in the martial world, where the dead have started reanimating recently deceased bodies as thinking zombies. Much of the martial world is ruled by an Emperor who is himself dead. He has five armies, each controlled by a former student of one of the eight Immortals (there are others). These students turned on their masters and learned Poison Kung Fu.
Now the Emperor is trying to put together his mystical armour so that he can come back to life and destroy the world for all time. The Immortals have left the world and have vowed not to interfere in worldly affairs, except through the actions of their agents, and so they send a young deserter from the Emperor's army, Lei Kung, on a mission to learn powerful kung fu and save the day.
McLeod fully embraces the tropes of Chinese kung fu movies, but adds just the right amount of 70s blaxploitation to the mix, in the character of Moog Joogular, an afro-sporting fighter with the ability to remove and regrow his limbs. Moog lives in a village that looks like Harlem, while the rest of the book is set in a more traditional Chinese countryside. It's an odd addition to the book, but it's exactly the kind of thing that makes me like it.
McLeod's story is long and rambling, in an epic way (the book is about 450 pages) that circles back upon itself. I enjoyed the flow of this story, and liked how complicated things got towards the end, as different factions competed for similar goals.
McLeod's art is very fluid, and his fight scenes are choreographed beautifully. He captures the variety of time periods he's looking to capture (i.e., a 70s depiction of ancient China) very well, and propels the story perfectly. McLeod's approach to this story is highly creative and never dull. Recommended.