Kabuki: Circle of Blood by David Mack

Kabuki: Circle of Blood
by David Mack
Marvel, 2010

A handsome hardback edition of a torrid and theatrical Japanese future crime noir, nominated for a bewildering number of major comics awards in the ’90s. The heroine Kabuki remains a cipher of a character despite a detailed back story as ludicrous as any that of any caped superhero, and the masterful black and white illustrations do a good job of disguising the ultimately anemic storyline.

To his credit, the author finished it when he was only 21, but this immaturity shows up in the identical faces and bodies of the female characters, endless Acts and Scenes and Prologues, and excruciating quotations from The Velvet Underground, Nine Inch Nails and, so help me, Alice in Wonderland. Its aspirations to Watchmen’s level of semiotic detail and Frank Miller’s long-departed The Dark Knight Returns coolness come over as pretentious, but most of our juvenilia doesn’t bear scrutiny and at least Mack followed through with his ambitions.

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