Son of Shaolin Volume 1 is out now, and this is a story that I need to get more of, and the sooner the better. I want to get my hands on the entire story right now, but quality art and story-telling take time, and the elders counsel patience… nope. I want to reread Book 1, and start in on Book 2.
The description may remind you of a thousand different stories you may have already read or watched a version of: a lost heir to an ancient mystic martial legacy, raised in secrecy to protect their existence from enemies, with a mentor/teacher coming to train them either when they come of age or their life is in danger or there’s a threat to the city/world and their powers are needed to help right the impending wrongs.
Yes, Son of Shaolin fits a lot of the descriptive tropes, and our hero Kyrie makes a lot of the same “Hero’s Journey” missteps while finding his way into his own power. But Kyrie and the other characters are who keep the story connected and grounded. Kyrie’s friends become his own support system when it seems he has no one, and his loyalty to them is returned in kind, without too much question. This makes the friendships, and the neighborhood feel richer, which makes the story feel larger and lived in.
The colors are vibrant while the tones dark, putting me in mind of the Daredevil comics I enjoyed many years ago (and also Season 1 of the Netflix series), and that adds a gritty lived-in feel to the world without having that grittiness be reflected in the characters’ actions and behaviors. A touch of the “less is more” axiom at work, quite well.
This story calls to my fondness of the kung fu action films I grew up watching every weekend when I was a kid, imitating the over-the-top action sequences with my brother or a couple of my cousins, trying to cover the noise when we accidentally knocked over furniture. That’s why I’m happy to see that this story has already been picked up by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s production studio, Seven Bucks Productions and Sony / Columbia Pictures.
I want to see more of this world and these heroes, so I hope the wait for Book 2 and beyond isn’t too long, and that the film adaptation goes smoothly.
Son of Shaolin: Book 1
Story: Jay Longino
Art / Cover: Caanan White
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Top Cow Productions
A kung-fu epic set in the back alleys and subway tunnels of Harlem, New York. Kyrie, an aspiring street artist who is struggling to make ends meet, learns that he is the last living descendant of a secret sect of ancient Shaolin elders. Confused and unsure of where to turn, he finds a father figure in the mysterious Master Fong. Fong trains Kyrie in martial arts in anticipation of an attack from Red Fist, a relentless killer who has already murdered the rest of Kyrie’s bloodline. Introduction by AISHA TYLER.