Infinite Kung Fu (Top Shelf)

IKF

Rating: 2.5/5 – A swing and a miss.

My two favorite shows when I was a little kid were subbed episodes of Ultraman and Kung Fu with David Carradine. As I got older that love expanded to movies like Enter the Dragon and Master of the Flying Guillotine. Even these days, I will drop whatever I’m doing if Kill Bill is on. To say I am into the martial world as a concept is a profound understatement. I tell you this to give you an idea of how excited I got when Kagan McCloud’s critically acclaimed Infinite Kung Fu fell into my hungry hands.

I don’t think the outcome was worth the wait.

Don’t get me wrong, even as a bit of a slog it was still visually stunning. McCloud is a master, and I tend to love the work of a lone creator so I can see a vision unfiltered by too many touches (editorial or otherwise). The art literally jumps off the page, the panel transitions are clever, to say nothing about the sense of movement each lovingly crafted shape conveys. But that’s where my affection starts to run out. The story didn’t find its wheels for me until deep within the book. Maybe it was the pre-read-hype that set my expectations too high (and that’s on me) or maybe it was all the tangential stuff along the way, but I really had to push myself to keep reading.

Here’s the setup: the martial world has fallen into disarray. As a result, the souls of the deceased, unable to enter the cycle of rebirth, are retuning in droves to the land of the living as the undead. With the world in peril eight immortals put their faith in one champion after another, to combat this blight. One, after the other, they all succumb to their baser nature dabbling in the forbidden power of Poison Kung Fu. So it falls on a lone hero, last among the chosen; a deserter and murderer named Lei Kung whose singular task is to set the martial world back in order.  Sounds awesome right?

For a comic to be truly great in my mind it has to work on a lot of levels. The writing has to be as compelling as the art, to say nothing of the inking, coloring or lettering. To my mind the intersection of all of these things have to be so good that no one part stands out a separate component above the other; they all serve the execution of the story. Infinite Kung Fu doesn’t meet that criterion. Sure the premise is cool, the art is stunning, and the genres it combines are compelling; but no matter how much I tried, none of that was enough to make me love this book.

As a huge fan of Chop-Socky flicks and zombie preparedness, I expected this to be right up my alley.  Sadly, it just wasn’t.

I know.  I was surprised too.

Guest Reviewer: Asher L. Turnaround – jonin21@gmail.com
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