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The Four Constables: Volume 1

The Four Constables: Volume 1

Words by Tony Wong - Art by Andy Seto - Published by DrMaster Publications - First published 2003
The Four Constables: Volume 1

Despite its presence in the cinema and video gaming, martial arts don't feature heavily in western action comics. As with its film industry however, Hong Kong is exporting comic talent, with Wong and Seto's The Four Constables offering a glimpse into a medieval Chinese fantasy world that should satiate the desires of anyone craving a bit of pseudo-historical kung fu action.

The Four Constables: Volume 1

There's no pretence that this is anything but fantastical, with the key characters having special moves reminiscent of characters from beat-'em-up style console games and brightly coloured hair that's straight from cartoon-like animé movies. This isn't exactly uncommon in the genre however, where even the classiest movies feature characters that can engage in combat while balancing on fragile treetops, leaping over buildings or bouncing on the surface tension of water. And as with the best kung fu movies, the visuals on offer here are stunning, pushing the monochromatic style of most pulp Asian comics into the dark ages.

The story isn't much more than a series of orchestrated fights, based around the four constables' investigation of a series of slaughters committed by a covert team of highly experienced assassins. Hunting down the perpetrators one by one leads to a series of tough battles and although the back story implies that they're most at home operating individually, by teaming together they can use their individual skills to maximum effect. A number of the assassins are dealt with in this volume though it isn't a complete story - you'll have to move on to the next volume if you want to continue following it.

Though it's smattered with a little mystery and intrigue, it's really most likely to appeal to the kind of person who wishes their fighting games had more of a back story; that they made movies using the characters from Tekken; and that more of the actors in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had bright green dyed hair. Nothing wrong with that though - kung fu fans should form an orderly queue.

If you like this graphic novel, why not try...
Lone Wolf and Cub
Story:3 stars
Art:4 stars
Overall:3 stars
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