Gun Fu
Howard M. Shum & Joey Mason
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Gun Fu: Volume 1

Howard M. Shum & Joey Mason
Image Comics
144 pages
October 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Now, not to point fingers or put out blatant accusations here, but you know somebody had to be in some way inebriated to conceptualize the backstory for Gun Fu. When the Queen of England frets about Nazi shenanigans, she calls on the Hong Kong police inspector Cheng Bo Sen, a kung-fu fighting, gun-totting, gangsta-talking ladies’ man. One would think one of her own spies would do the trick, but apparently, Bo Sen’s position would be one of the first of many jobs exported to foreign soil.

The first story arc has Bo Sen facing off against a Nazi robot that, although it gives him some trouble, just isn’t slick enough for the smooth, suave style of this spy. But from there, the Queen hires him out again to stop those plotting Nazis from finding a lost Inca city (No, not Machu Picchu). If they are able to loot this treasure-filled city, they will be able to fund all sorts of evil projects. So off to the jungles of South America with the heavy-set, slightly whiny archaeologist Eleanor Dumple. As they stalk the Nazis through the vast jungle, they must watch out for the cannibalistic natives and other potential hazards. They are befriended by the delicious jaguar lady, Adrima, with a Tarzan-like past. Together they manage to track down and confront the Nazis.

The quirkiness of this series carries it just as much as the action and adventure. With no one every noticing or commenting on Bo Sen’s dialect, much of what comes out of his month can be quite funny - especially because it doesn’t elicit a reaction. But there are other funky aspects to this graphic novel, such as the “sponkeys”—genetically altered monkeys with spider abilities such as poisonous fangs and the ability to shoot spider webbing out of their butts.

Renowned self-publisher Dave Sims treats readers to an introduction that gives some explanation into the history of Gun Fu and the artists. The back section of the graphic novel features numerous one-page panels of the comic book characters. Now this is where this graphic novel becomes stranger. The back section also presents several people who Howard Shum has interviewed, including photographer Glen Luchford, filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, and several Victoria’s Secret models. While some tentative connections can be made, they seem a bit superfluous overall.

Though the manga influence is obvious, the art still maintains its own distinct send of style. Striking use of color and creating sharp, clear borders around everything in the foreground make the transition from panel to panel quick smooth for the eyes.

Gun Fu can inarguably be considered original, even though some might use it as a euphemistic term for strange and freaky. At the series’ core, though, lies a fun and light-hearted theme that is quite enjoyable.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Lance Eaton, 2005

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