Right in time for Halloween, Yen Press‘ King of Eden Volume One (written by Takashi Nagasaki with art by SangCheol Lee) arrives with a lot of fanfare and apocalyptic zombie action for fans of horror manga.
While King of Eden has already been praised by other critics for its depiction of the zombie genre in illustrated form, to reduce the entire story to the catch-all zombie story tag is not doing King of Eden justice. Don’t get me wrong; if you love zombie films and television, you will absolutely find what you are looking for in this collection, with all of the typical tropes associated with the George Romero films and the more recent The Walking Dead comics and television program. However, King of Eden also communicates elements of John Carpenter’s work, primarily the bleak world-view and mysterious human protagonists that can be found in Escape from New York, The Thing, and They Live, as well as King of Eden.
Having more time and space than the average 90 minute film or TV episode, Nagasaki takes his time crafting the narrative, with a slower emphasis on character development, which at many times reads like a police procedural drama than a zombie tale (even though there are zombies everywhere). King of Eden is also tweaked with a supernatural element that has been missing from zombie fiction as of late involving ancient curses and evil. To be honest, this is a welcome wrinkle found in East of Eden (and indicative of both Japan’s and Korea’s horror sensibilities concerning the presence of the supernatural).
The artwork by Lee also represents a departure from typical manga, again bringing together the artistic choices from two Asian cultures. Lee’s art is more detailed than one finds in most horror manga (or other genres for that matter) as he is equally adept at capturing the human and inhuman elements in the story. Many pages contain little to no dialogue, and Lee’s art easily tells the tale and moves the story forward, making the reactions of the character’s realistic, in an unrealistic scenario.
With King of Eden Vol. 1 clocking in with over 400 pages of content, readers will get more than their fair share of scares in this engaging horror story.
King of Eden Volume 1 is currently available in finer comic book shops, book stores, and digitally.