feature Comic book review - Art of War

Ironically titled Art of War, is an exciting fast paced American Manga. It blends a lot of concepts of sci-fi, fantasy, manga and even American storytelling.  The core concept is really interesting, and has great potential for both the story and action. I am hooked and I am sure you will have a lot of fun reading this action filled ride!
Writing: Pam Yan
Story Boarder: Pam Yan & Son Ho
Art: Son Ho & Pam Yan
Letter: Son Ho & Pam Yan
Age Rating: 13+
Where to get it: Volume 1 coming soon & you can read the story via http://artofwarmanga.com and it’s best to follow the @artofwarmanga twitter page.
art of war poster
Art of War is about 3 “Artists” from different periods of time, who come together at a moment in time and things get really interesting from there.

Story & Characters
Art of war chapter 6 page 2
During the first 2 chapters, the story jumps between 3 time periods and introduces our central characters. From mid-chapter 1, the character Erin is introduced. She takes a typical hero’s journey very reminiscent of American story telling. Combined with some moments of levity, that mangas have, it makes for a very interesting read full of action, thrill and a whole lot of fun.
Erin’s character is very well fleshed out and has depth. She has her share of challenges, is down on luck, gets bullied by her classmates and also her Professor. She is definitely a likeable underdog, who you would love to root for. These flaws, also ground her fair bit and adds a dimension to the story full of characters with skills that border on superpowers.
The core story elements of creating weapons from art is really cool, moves the story in very interesting directions. Time travel is used as a device to bring the story together and kick off the main plot.
There’s a big gallery of side characters with really interesting traits. Some of them are still be unravelled in Chapter 6. I really liked the interesting character reveal in Chapter 6 and the way it is revealed too with a switch in art styles. I would really like the characters of Sully and Nikki do more in the future chapters. So is Professor Maximus and Mayor Julianne Paletee. I absolutely loved the sassiness of Sass Nova and how her character turns a cliche’ on it’s head.

So far the characters are both fun and endearing. The only thing missing from the host of characters if a central villain to complete this list. I would eagerly await for more chapters for that and would love if it’s a villain with some depth to them.

Art & Inspiration

The art style is very character focused. Background in panels in the first chapter are really detailed and rich. Some panels remind me of Kokou no Hito and One Punch Man. The style does shift a fair as the story progresses and becomes more minimalist in it’s backgrounds. The action steps up as well as the story progresses, and the art reflects that. Background and sound effects factor for that.
I could spot some pop culture references in the story. For starters, Sketch’s introduction has Street Fighter and the 80s arcade gaming references. Ronan’s introduction lives up to his name as a samurai. Action panels, humour panels and the loud over the top moments also remind me of Poke’mon adventures and One Piece, especially because a large number of Poke’mon comics are black and white too.
The switch in art styles for exposition is fun and playful. Facial expressions are great and used very effectively. I love the humour and the occasional over the top panels. They’re used in measure and give the story some moments of lightheartedness.
The story draws from a lot of sources, but is quite original in the way it unfolds. Weapons get really creative and action becomes fun as it progresses.
I do have a couple of critiques, here though. Some sound effects like Whoosh and Bang should be used more sparingly. I would love if the creators get more creative with the sound effects. It’s one of the most challenging areas of any comic book in general. A couple pages can be trimmed down to further improve an already good story.

Final Verdict
Art of War is a fun anime that blends elements of American and Japanese in an interesting way. I am very interested in how the story is moving and really hooked to see where the story goes! It has endearing characters that are really grounded despite possessing powers of superheros. It is funny, filled with action and some moments of genuine surprise. It also turns some cliche’s on it’s head. I will surely be looking forward to the further chapters of Art of War and would recommend you check it too!
Art of War volume 1 cover