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Two Cent Reviews : The Path, Hammer of the Gods
Reviewed by Evan Cantrell, © 2002

Format: Comics
By:   Various
Genre:   Various
Released:   October, 2002
Review Date:   October 24, 2002

This week I take a look at two books that share a similar theme. One is a samurai epic and the other a Viking saga, but each follows the adventures of a man seeking vengeance on the gods he once worshiped. First up is…

The Path Vol. 1: Crisis Of Faith

Writer: Ron Marz

Penciler: Bart Sears & Walter Simonson

Inker: Mark Pennington

Colorist: Michael Atiyeh

Publisher: Crossgen Comics

This could very well be one of my favorite books from Crossgen. I stopped buying singles of Crossgen’s books a while back, because they are clearly committed to producing quality collections of each of their series. And this is definitely one not to be missed. The Path: Crisis Of Faith collects the Prequel and issues one through six of the series.

I have only had a passing interest at best in samurai, so I’m not completely sure why I liked this book so much. The Path tells the story of Obo-san, a monk on the island nation of Nayado (for all intents and purposes Japan). Upon the death of his brother, the warlord Todosi, Obo-san is branded with a mysterious sigil and comes to possess a weapon that is feared by the gods themselves. Now, Obo-san searches for a way to destroy these gods he once worshiped in order to avenge his brother’s death while being pursued by forces hoping to gain possession of the weapon he carries.

While that basic premise may seem a little clichéd, Ron Marz really turns this into an engaging read by focusing on the conflict between and within the various characters. Obo-san’s struggle to reconcile his faith with the knowledge that everything he once believed in was a lie is really the heart of this book. As the book progresses, loyalties are put into question and new allies are made. Obo-san isn’t the only interesting character here though. Marz gives us a handful of characters that have their own quirks and conflicts. One of the coolest that I can’t wait to see more of is Wulf, the ‘outlander’ (think Viking) trained in the ways of the samurai.

Bart Sears’ art on this book is unlike anything I have seen from him. While the book starts out looking like his typical line work (which isn’t a bad thing), as the book progresses the art becomes more fluid as if it was inked with a thicker brush. I really enjoyed this new direction he is taking his art. Sears also does a great job of using the two-page spread. Sometimes this is a larger image running across both pages with smaller panels moving the story along to the top and bottom, and sometimes this is a smaller image at the top and bottom to convey the setting with a block of panels spanning the spread to handle the storytelling. This really gives the book a cinematic feel and does a great job of slowing down or speeding up the action. And like most of Crossgen’s other books, the coloring is just beautiful. Overall, you will be hard pressed to find nicer art out there. You really should give this book a try. (9 out of 10)

Hammer Of The Gods: Mortal Enemy

Writer: Michael Avon Oeming & Mark Obie Wheatley

Artist: Michael Avon Oeming

Colorist: Mark Obie Wheatley

Publisher: Image Comics

Similar to The Path, Hammer Of The Gods is the story of a man betrayed by the very gods he worshipped. Hammer tells the story of Modi, a human who is cursed by the gods. This curse prevents Modi from ever touching a weapon lest he lose his own soul. As a bonus though, he is given the strength of a god. Modi grows up worshiping and admiring the gods until one day he returns to his home to find it destroyed and his parents killed by giants. This leads Modi on a quest to gain an audience with the gods to avenge his parents’ death and find out why the gods would turn their backs on the people that believe in them.

While the theme of this book is similar to that of The Path, the subject is handled in a completely different way. The tone here is much lighter and playful as Modi sets out on his quest and takes down any giants, trolls or other nasty things that might get in his way.

If you enjoy Mike Oeming’s art on Powers, then you definitely won’t be disappointed with this book. Oeming’s art here is fun and energetic. His deceptively simple linework does a great job of conveying the story, giving you just enough to keep you interested, but not so much that it slows the story down. And as an added bonus, the original issues, which were black and white, are colored in this collection. My only problem with this book is that the writing at times seems kind of clunky and unnecessary giving us captions where the art is enough. All in all though, this is a fun read and well worth your time. And next it looks like Modi his headed for China, which should be a blast. (7 out of 10)



 
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