xangel's Five Weapons #1 - Jade the Blade review

Razor Sharp and a lot of fun!

from PureNerdNip writing for The Capeless Crusader

A Harry Potter-esque academy for assassination training, rendered in a style reminiscent of a manga inspired Series of Unfortunate Events; yes please!

Five Weapons is the story of Tyler Shainline, a surname that draws respect and awe amongst his peers at Five Weapons Preparatory Academy; where, you guessed it, they train and compete in one of five weapon disciplines. While each of these "clubs" vie for Tyler's fealty; he enters their world armed with neither firearm nor sword, but merely his rapier wit. It's a simple yet ingenious hook that more than backs itself up with an entertaining and engaging plot!

Written and drawn by Jimmie Robinson (Bomb Queen), this was just a lot of fun to read. He takes a straightforward enough premise and weaves in a unique back-story that makes this book breeze by. It feels perfectly at home at Image, seemingly the home of individual and unique story-lines; they are fast becoming my new favorite publisher. Slated at a 5 issue arc, it finds a good pace in what reveals the world of the story, exploring the first of the 5 clubs (knives, staves, archery, exotic weapons, and guns) starts to look at character back-story, and sets up the conflict and exposition to come. Page one sets up a 'How did I get into this situation' type flashback, while simultaneously posing to the reader a 'which side are you on' type challenge. Page 2 reads like a brochure for the assassin academy; and if that's not enough to hook you, then just stop reading here.

Beyond the captivating storyline, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had in Robinson's art. From the targets on the school uniforms, to the recycling bin for ammo, to the motivational posters in the backgrounds reinforcing weapon safety, the illustration simultaneously captures a unique flair and flavor while adding some refreshing visual foreshadowing. One of my favorite panels was a wide shot of the knife club featuring a selection of famous blades around the classroom like those from Final Fantasy 7 or Halo. The manga inspiration does not stop at mere visual influence, as the genres' trademark quick over-emotionality carries through; but as a fan of the brand it didn't bother me, as it keeps a very packed story flowing smoothly. The vibrant color pallet and notebook style shading add and enhance the story. The layout is a bit restrictive consisting entirely of 4 or 5 horizontal panels per page. While this would normally be a sticking point for me, it somehow works for this title and really lends itself to being read digitally; being almost perfectly formatted for tablet reading without the need for constant device re-orientation.

In a time where it would be really easy to dwell on violence and weapons in the media, Five Weapons treads in ominous territory. However, in a world built upon the premise of training kids to kill, not a single character is harmed; all while never sacrificing entertainment value! From a quote at Image: "I wanted fun with an edge, but I also wanted Five Weapons to be smart and challenge the reader," said Robinson. "While there are plenty of weapons to be found in the pages, there is also an invisible sixth weapon between the panels: the skill of the human mind."

6 Comments
Posted by Technicolorville

Great Review man Kevin from StadiumComics(They have a cool youtube channel) recommended it and it's good I read it.

Posted by kingsloth

How many issues is this going to be?

Posted by Xangel

@kingsloth: 5 issues for 5 weapons ;-)

Posted by kingsloth

@Xangel: You got me interested I think I'll pick this up.

Posted by Xangel

@kingsloth: happy to help ;-) It really is a lot of fun!

Posted by Perfect 10

been waiting for this issue since i heard of the series about four months ago. the title alone reminds me of a 70s kung fu flick and the cover is really cool. so i just read it and...ITS SOOOOOOOO AMAZING. let's get the cons out of the way: the art is a little inconsistent most notably with Jade (sometimes look asian, sometimes doesnt) and tyler (sometimes heavy set other times slender). there was a scene where one of the students says "i thought he was suppose to be white" referring to tyler and i was like "he isn't white?" robinson needs some work on getting the features of other races down. if it wasnt for that comment and a later reveal i wouldnt have known that tyler was hispainic.

other than that loved it. very witty, fun, a smooth read (most enjoyable read this year after son of merlin), i had a smile on my face the first couple of pages. it was obvious that coming to the school tyler was armed with his own weapon but not one of the five mentioned here. it is a sixth weapon, his mind. the boy is mini holmes and i LOVE it. the way he figures out people from subtle comments or clues is really cool. brains over brawn and detective stories have always had a place in my heart and i can really relate to the character of tyler, always studying people and using his head. i just hope his confidence doesnt become arrogance cause that never leads to anything but trouble

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