I discovered Urban Shogun a few years ago via it’s website HERE. It is an exciting series of webcomics originally created by James Mason, also known as MASE, which features a multicultural cast of urban youths utilizing their martial arts skills on the streets. I was very happy when he collected some of his best strips into printed comics (I love reading prose e-books, but with graphic novels I still prefer print, for some reason).
VOLUME 1, above, features 4 stories written and draw by MASE (with assists from Tariq Hassan aka Riq on the final story). WRATH OF THE TIGER has a man named Jalen Spear showing up to join into an basketball game. When the other players recognize him as someone wanted by a rival Clan leader, they try to physically restrain him. Big mistake. Jalen utilizes his tiger style to take down all 5 of them, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, with his bare hands. It’s brutal. In RIVAL SCHOOLS a young martial arts student named Saul faces a formal challenge from the leader of his master’s biggest competitor. In a fair fight, he faces and beats 5 students of the other teacher in unarmed combat, bringing honor to his own master. Then, in CLASS REUNION, he meets up with some of his fellow students to discuss the fight. In PHOBIA another young martial artists saves an old woman from being attacked by 4 thugs. Then in POLTERGEIST he catches up with one of thugs who showed some potential skill, and offered him a way off the streets, by inviting him to attend his dojo for lessons. The stories are high on action, low on dialog, but with just enough to keep the stories moving. Mase’s art fits the tone of each story wonderfully, with an animated feel to it. I can almost picture each story as a cartoon in my head. The cover was drawn by Stanley Weaver Jr (aka Standingo73), who also does a great job. His style also fits these characters, so it’s not a jarring contrast between his and Mase’s art.
VOLUME 2 features another 4 stories, all written by Mase, but the art for the first story is capably produced by Alpha Genesis Woods. In KUNG FU HUSTLIN, a young woman named Lin pays a visit to a man who abused his ex-girlfriend, beats the crap out of him and his two buddies and then takes his money, and warns him that she’ll be back. In the follow up, THE BIG PAYBACK, he’s hired a bunch of tough guys to protect him when she returns. But this time she brings 3 of her buddies with her, and gives up his money this time without a fight. In MISDIRECTION two guys arrive @ a local Korean restaurant and covertly instigate a fight between a waiter and rude customer, to see if the waiter, Jin, still has the skills they need for him to join their clan (spoiler: he does). The final story, ENTER THE VENOM is a sequel to Wrath of The Tiger from Volume 1. Two students of the Venom Clan show up to the aftermath of the fight on the court, and team up to beat up the remaining players for their failure to hold Jalen. As an extra feature there’s a few pages of character sketches by Mase.
Two Thumbs Up to both volumes.
Mase also put together this URBAN SHOGUN CHARACTER GUIDE, which is reminiscent of the old Who’s Who in DC and Marvel Universe Handbooks that DC and Marvel used to publish. It’s an art book, with a series of pin-ups of all the characters in the series, with detailed fact-sheets, telling you everything you want to know about each character, including their real names, street names, fighting styles, and backgrounds. Mase assembled a quality group of artists to draw some of the characters, including Woods, Hassan, & Weaver, along with newcomers Ron Salas and Shawn Alleyen. Each does a fine job, there’s not a weak-link in the line-up. I wouldn’t say this issue is essential to the rest of the series, but it definitely helps.
STREET TEAM #0 This is a very interesting collaborative effort. Tiger (Jalen) from Urban Shogun appears, as does Charlie “Fab” Goubile’s Blackbird (reviewed HERE). A deranged costumed mad man calling himself Lord Oguun launches a series of terrorist attacks on the city of Bridgeport in the middle of the night. The police station and City Hall are blown up, and all the bridges that lead to the city have been destroyed. A local high-tech vigilante called Stalker gathers a team of vigilantes from neighboring cities, including Tiger and Blackbird, and new character Dodger and Aaron. Together they meet in secret and plan to break back into the city, and liberate it from Oguun’s forces. Will they succeed? Well, that’s up to YOU, if you like to play video games. Because that’s what Street Team ultimately is. A multi-player PC video game where you can play these characters. You can download the video HERE and HERE. And watch a preview of it on Youtube:
Personally, I’ve never been really into video games, so I can’t honestly give a review of it, since I’ve never played it. But I love the concept, and the idea of these brothers getting together to do this on their own is awesome. So if YOU are into video games, go ahead and check it out.
But I CAN @ least highly recommend the comic. Stanley Weaver Jr. pencils the story, with inks by Shawn Alleyne and colors by Mase, and plotted the story with Joseph Currie who wrote most of the script, with input from the other creators, including Koran Curtis. It’s all good stuff, really.
TWO THUMBS UP!
All of these comics can be found on Indy Planet.