About a year ago, I was browsing a local comic book store, and decided to pick up the first volume of Kabuki. Pleasant enough – I’m as happy to read comic books about attractive women beating the crap out of people as the next person – but flawed in its own ways, too.

Still, I was curious enough to read the second volume. Which completely through me for a loop – it was stunningly gorgeous, successfully experimenting with a few different artistic styles, and the experimental narrative was more promising than that of the first volume. Clearly I had to read more.

The third volume didn’t do so much for me – back to the less interesting drawing and narrative style. But the fourth volume was quite good, and the fifth volume is on my personal short list of potential best comic books ever. (Hmm, what else is on the list? I’d have to think about it. Is anything else on the list right now?)

Everything comes together in that volume. The art is again stunning. (You can see some of the artist’s cover images on his web site; I like several of those quite a bit, but the interior art is much more richly layeed.) It’s very well integrated into the narrative of the story, and integrates text and picture in a more successfully interesting way than anything else I can recall reading. The plot is solid enough to carry the weight of the other features of the volume.

Why had I never heard of this series before? I guess I need to get out more…

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