The Weapon #3
Yet more spoilers, but it's from 2007 - you've survived this far...
The Weapon #3 jumps right into it again. As Tommy stands off with the Lin Kuei ("Forest Demons") he gets a little more history from the leader, Sheila, before she and her assassins take Megan Dean-Hughes on the last leg of the search for the scroll of the secrets to mastering chi - "The Way of the Weapon." Sheila leaves a brutal looking, ham fisted, huge blade carrying initiate of the Lin Kuei to kill Tommy in combat - a chance she gives him as a gift for unwittingly helping them to get this far on their search. Tommy wins the fight, and drops two one liners during the fight that fell a little flat for me.
Megan had marked the final leg on a map before she was grabbed, and the Forest Demons left it behind. Tommy, missing the low power warning on his hard light generator, uses the map to find the cavern that houses the scroll. He has to make his way through a series of traps long ago set by the Shan-Tao (set long ago, but that include lasers), even though the large group of Lin Kuei are already inside the cavern - which means they had to get through all of those traps too, dragging an unwilling Megan. If the gauntlet of traps doesn't remind you of scenes from Indiana Jones, that's okay, because Tommy will be sure to mention it himself.
To make matters worse with the Jones comparisons, the final scenes are of the Lin Kuei performing an exacting switch of the scroll and an identically weighted substitute, reminiscent of the scene of Jones' golden idol and bag of sand... but with a bit more flair - I'll have to give them that. And the issue ends with the Forest Demons in possession of the scroll.
The story is set in the modern day, but with all the history being thrown in about the Shan-Tao, Lin Kuei, Buddhism, the scroll, and Hawaii, the book feels like it's set in an older time - until some modern reference brings you out of the story for a minute. Like the Indiana Jones reference, the lasers in the cavern, etc. I suppose I should be having fun with the constant riffs on Indiana Jones, but it's bugging me, because it seems like story elements were stolen from that to make this cool, and I'm already disappointed that this concept isn't better on its own. The story is passably entertaining, the art is crisp and sharp... it just seems like they put so much work into a mediocre project. I want to enjoy this more than I have been.
Once again, I'm starting at 2.5 stars - a median rating for a median project - deducting a half-star each for the two IJ refs, another half-star for the blatant IJ comment from The Weapon, and a whole star for lasers being part of an ancient trap. I'm going to deduct another half-star for bad jokes and the plot hole of the traps that weren't already tripped by the Lin Kuei. I'm going to give back a half-star for the extra flair on the scroll switch, and a whole star, because I still want to read the last issue. For those keeping score at home, that makes the final score 1 star. (Yeah, it was a long way to go for the score, but you know you had fun keeping up with it. See? Word problems aren't all bad.)