Comics have taught me a lot as I’ve read them. Really.
When I was young, I learned a lot of science from Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky as they brought us the adventures of the Justice League of America. Also, in first grade, I knew what the word “invulnerable” meant, thanks to Superman, so they also increased my vocabulary!
These days, comics entertain more than educate me, but there is at least one recent notable exception that does both — Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender.
Here’s the book’s description: “This is a limited series based on the true story of Admiral Yi Soon Shin, a Korean naval commander who saved his people from Japanese invasion forces during the Imjin War (1592-1598). Much like the Nazis during World War II, the Japanese were known for having little remorse for the innocent civilians of Korea. They raped women, enslaved children and killed elders. All that stood against them was one man who could not be defeated in battle.”
Now, before you roll your eyes and say, as some kids these days do, “History is boring,” you really need to buy and read this incredible hardcover volume. Onrie Kompan’s script and dialogue are both powerful, and the painted art from Giovanni Timpano and Adriana De Los Santos is completely stunning! And don’t be put off when I tell you this is one of the most “literate” comics I’ve ever read! Take it from me — you need to get this book!
Honestly, I now realize that I know way too little about Korean history. I had never heard of this amazing person before, but now that I’ve read this book, I want to know much more!
All the people simply pop off the page, not only the main character. They are that real, a result of the combination of the engrossing script and dynamic art! Surprises abound, and that made me turn each page quickly, anxious to learn, “What’s going to happen now?” When I reached the end of this book, I was disappointed, but in the good way! After that surprising ending, I can’t wait to see the next volume in this series!
Yi Soon Shin is both human and humane, more concerned about his country and those who live there than his own safety, something he pays a price for in my favorite part of the story.
The only portion of the book when the pacing slows is during a text section at the beginning of each chapter. But you shouldn’t skip over them because they’ll be very important when you get back into the drawn pages.
There’s also an interesting forward by comics legend Stan Lee, who compares Yi Soon Shin to Captain America, among other heroes, and rightly so, because this admiral has inspired generations with his keen strategic thinking and amazing courage. Oh, and he does wear quite a colorful uniform, too!
To access Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender, it’s available through Amazon.com and can be ordered by your local retailer. It can also be downloaded digitally on your iPad or Android device via the Graphic.ly comic book reading application (which is free!). You’ll be glad you did! “Bangpohara!”