First described to me as “Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider”, this does Daomu #1 a disservice. Yes, the plot revolves around a secret society of tomb robbers, so the comparison is understandable, but the preceding quote is more of a marketing tag for Image to hook potential readers. Opening the comic though, the text on the first page reveals an even deeper back story and world mythos than those Western franchises ever achieved. The digitally rendered art, by Ken Chou, is so distinctly 21st century and “not-American”, that this tag line will feel almost misleading after finishing the issue.
The distinctly blended style of painterly panels, computer rendered effects, and a palette of cold tones immediately distinguishes this book from any mainstream North American comics. To my eye, the art conveyed more movement inside a single panel than I was used to. The first battle scene, mid-way through the issue, read like an action sequence from The Matrix, and yet, with a unique horror flavour.
Daomu #1 definitely left me asking, “What’s going to happen next?” The last panel alone demonstrated why Image’s other tag line for the title refers to its sold out print run in China. Daomu was originally a hugely popular Chinese novel series that was adapted into a comic, before Image teamed up with Concept Art House to bring the story to the North American market.
Writer Kennedy Xu (Xu “Kennedy” Lei) is clearly a master storyteller; the heart of the first issue is really about a son’s relationship with his recently deceased father. It is this ultimately mundane and easily relatable emotional aspect that will keep readers connected with the clearly supernatural-adventure world that was built in the original novels. Given Image’s small print runs/break out hits, like Invincible, Chew, and The Walking Dead, this issue is definitely worth picking up on speculation alone!