The real problem with so many new comic book series is the massive amount of information that authors try to shove at you in such a limited space. This was certainly a problem in The Immortal Demon in the Blood #1 & 2.
This is a story of wishes and power. Wishes are granted and power is passed to the wish maker when that desire is the greatest want in the asker’s heart. It is usually in a moment of complete desperation. Amane Ichinose was dying. His greatest wish was to be allowed to live. As a traitor to the Shinsegumi samurai clan, they came after him and cut him down. But Amane truly regretted his actions. And when his wish to live was granted by Oni, demon, holder Baikou Houshou, he would have the live with the memory of that sin for the rest of his long long looooooong life.
Why so long? Because as part of his wish to live, Amane will have a much longer lifespan than normal humans and he will be almost impossible to kill. A samurai blade barely fazes him. He readily agrees to become Baikou’s apprentice where he will learn the art of tattooing and much more about the demon that now supplies his body with the power of longevity.
Moving into issue number two, which came out just this week, This issue takes place 15 years after the first installments (which the writer didn’t make very clear at first, actually). Amane is now calling himself Enma Houshou and looks like he hasn’t aged a day. Within the first few pages he meets Natsu Hisaka, daughter of one of Enma’s old samurai brothers. Her father has been wrongfully imprisoned and Enma has agreed to help her free him.
Moving on from the plot to the overall feel of the story, pieces just seemed to be missing from this comic in general. While it was interesting and unique I had a few qualms with it. First, considering the beauty of the Japanese culture depicted in the time period and the use of the steampunk themes – I felt the art was far too simplistic. I saw the cover of issue #2, which was drawn by Long Vo and instantly drew my attention to the series. But the art inside was not nearly as compelling.
Secondly, the steampunk element came out of nowhere. I realize that it was not in the first issue because a gap of 15 years and the subsequent technological advancements. But all of a sudden we are in the second book and steam-run machines are just dropped into the art and yet hardly recognized in the writing. No build-up. No warning. Just instant steampunk – robotic horses and steam run carriages etc.
Lastly, when we first meet Natsu, we aren’t told her age. But considering she didn’t have the look of a child and appears almost as tall as Enma, I assumed she was a woman. Technically I guess I should have known otherwise from the cover – but she looked SO DIFFERENT. Another gap of seven years of time happens mid-story and Natsu is drawn with different hair and western-style dress. She then announces that she is 20 – which would have put her at 13 in the previous part of the story, which rather shocked me.
In general, I liked the story, but there were just too many little problems that individually wouldn’t have bothered me that much, but they add enough to call it quits on this book, I’m afraid. This story was based off of a Japanese novel, Ura-Enma, by Fumi Nakamura. I can only assume that the novel format was a better match for this tale.