Co-Creator and Writer Kelly Bender
Co-Creator and Illustrator Eda Kunsis
Inker Ivan Miranda
Colorist Brenton Mathena
Letterer Micah Myers
I must admit that like many American’s I can be somewhat sheltered from other people’s cultures and traditions. The Yakuza and gangland Japan is something I’m fairly unfamiliar with except for the typical stuff loyalty and honor that I feel is fairly common knowledge. I say this because Bender is showing that building upon common knowledge and weaving a complex story out of commonly known things is certainly a sign of great writing and I feel like Yakuza 893 is not only a perfect example of Bender’s writing skills growing to professional levels but it’s also a display of visual beauty from the artist team.
Yakuza 893 is an accomplished mix of exposition and storytelling. Bender’s ability to explain without explaining and throw in little nuggets of knowledge about the Yakuza and gang life in Japan all while sticking to a story and not jumping the tracks is why I consider Bender one of the best indie writers today. Unfortunately for the indie community that statement won’t hold true for long because Bender is well on his way to a professional career in comics. The story is centered around a Yakuza enforcer and like any good story issue one is a great set up that well defines character base and sets the story in motion while leaving readers wanting issue two right away. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a first issue and this is a series I already know I’m going to ride out till the end.
This artist team put together a seriously gorgeous book. It looks so good it’s hard to know exactly where to start. The cover is strong, it gives me a sense of the importance the main character must have but also gives you a sneak peak into the sensitivity that he must feel for the woman on the cover as well. Very complex after I started to think about it. That isn’t where it ends either. Page one is visually stunning and sets the tone for the books arts but also aligns the writing with the art in a way that just kicks the reader in the mouth and jump starts the book. Starting a book with a hardcore splash page is bold but Kunsis, Miranda, and Mathena make it look truly amazing and seamless. These three seriously blow my mind and this is just page one I’m talking about, never mind the fact that their sequential art is also top shelf.
Speaking of blowing my mind. Micah Myers. Nuff said. There are only a few indie letterers on the level of Myers but he has absolutely no issues hanging with truly amazing artists and adding the finishing touches to books that already look excellent. With Bender’s writing style Myers gets to sprinkle in captions here and there throughout most of the book and he does a magnificent job at placement. This book is heavy in spots with captions so placement is key and Myers is master. Myers is given a perfect showcase in the first page with with a few captions but where he really shines is in placement and look of the action lettering. The action letters add exactly what is needed on the splash page and fits right in there perfectly. It looks great, and again, it’s the cherry on top of the already stellar art.