"Tales of Mr. Rhee: Karmageddon #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Devil's Due Entertainment
Written by Dirk Manning
Illustrated by Seth Damoose
2014, 24 Pages, $1.99
Comic released on September 17th, 2014
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife and you may ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?" The lyrics from the classic Talking Heads track are what come to mind as Tales of Mr. Rhee: Karmageddon begins. The first issue (available for the crazy low price of $1.99!) picks up with the title character now in a relationship with Charity, the agent of P.R.O.M.I.S.E. that he encountered in a previous story. How he got there after the events of the first volume are still unknown.
Instead of focusing on those gaps (which I sincerely hope writer Dirk Manning goes back to fill in because I am dying to know what happened next), the book jumps further to the past, back when Armageddon occurred. Demons and monsters roamed the planet, destroying and killing anything they saw fit. Mr. Rhee puts down a few baddies and saves the lives of five children. Unfortunately, he was unable to do the same for their parents. He has sworn to protect these kids, but with all Hell breaking loose, that certainly easier said than done.
This gets to the route of what makes Mr. Rhee such an awesome character. He's more than just your average reluctant hero. Sure, he didn't wake up that morning with the intention of saving a car full of children, but he came across them and he did what he had to do. There's a great conversation between Mr. Rhee and the oldest orphan, Abby, that starts with her describing this man as a shining hero, accompanied by a beaming image of Mr. Rhee smiling and holding a demon's head in one hand and some entrails in another. If you know anything about Mr. Rhee, you'll know that he doesn't smile, so you can tell how far off the mark the poor girl is. She points out that he didn't have to stop and help. He could have kept going. To which he replies, "Maybe that's why the world's in the state it's in." Look out, kids. This guy is dropping some knowledge.
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To add to this, Mr. Rhee doesn't see many options as to what he can do to protect these orphans. The one place he feels would be safe from the demons would put them in the hands of an entirely different form of predator. He tries not to think about that, but it's clearly going to be something he's going to have to face sooner or later if he means to keep his word. He's a hero but his moral compass is skewed. He does what he feels is right but understands that in order to accomplish that, some people might get hurt along the way.
Seth Damoose is on board for art duties on Karmageddon, taking over for Joshua Ross from the first volume. He has a very different style that feels a bit more cartoonish than Ross'. This took some of the seriousness out of the book and made it seem occasionally comical, which is not the tone that I was getting from the story at all. The aforementioned shining-knight version of Mr. Rhee is a great shot that really works well with Damoose's pencils.
Damoose conveys the sense of sheer exhaustion coming from the title character. He's reserved and resigned to do his job. The weight of the world could be on those shoulders, weighing him down along with all the baggage he's been carrying around all these years.
Tales of Mr. Rhee: Karmageddon takes an unexpected turn after Procreation (of the Wicked). This book has begun filling in some of the gaps in the title character's past while leaving his future a mystery. I really want to know how Mr. Rhee got out of the mess he was in at the end of the previous volume, so the fact that this comic didn't lead with that has me a little frustrated. I have faith in Dirk Manning though. The guy knows how to tell a story (and a damn good one at that), so I'm sure he has a plan up his dark sleeves.
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