Hiyama - squaddie turns graphic novel artist...
It's 2019 and Britain's gangs are out of control. With the Police powerless to stop them due to an overabundance of human rights legislation, corruption and no prison places, the gangs are free to do as please; murder, mayhem and extortion. Matters aren't helped when the Police in general either turn a blind eye or are on the payroll of the gangs, with some very high placed protectors ensuring that the gangs are free to do their work.
From this chaos comes a partnership that spans the generations; a incorruptable police officer and an immigrant from the Far East with the ancient teachings of Hiyama, which is also the family name of said immigrant. This partnership came together in 1964 when a relative of the immigrant was raped and murdered by a gang. The best friend of this immigrant was a police officer who helped him track down the gang, all of whom he despatched in a clinical if gory manner.
This partnership spanned the generations as descendants of the two men followed the footsteps of their fathers; the current Hiyama, Kitano, is training both his daughter Mei in the art of Hiyama, whilst John Torrent, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, pays Kitano and his family to despatch gang-related targets - never killing them but severely incapacitating them.
Things change when the Conner Gang, one of the most powerful in Britain, kill Kitano's wife. Torrent warns that Conner and his gang are untouchable, but they haven't counted on the hot-tempered lethal killing machine of the younger Hiyama...
This is not a bad effort at all. Gruff79 was/is, according to the PR blurb, an Army musician who is an artist in his spare time. The idea of this series, which is planned to span 6 volumes, came from a conversation about whether he'd ever considered comic work. The result is ok, but not without flaws. I'm not an artist and struggle to draw even the most simple of things but I found some of the artwork and character design a little simplistic. On the other hand some of the artwork is quite impressive. My problem is that there doesn't appear to be a consistent style, which may come from creating this in his spare time. Gruff79 needs to find a consistent style to stop his work looking like a collection of separate drawings.
The dialogue is also very simplistic, and I know that a lot of comic work also follows that style, but I couldn't really immerse myself in the world that Gruff79 was trying to create as it felt more like a book that would appeal to teenagers than adult readers. Maybe that is the target audience, in which case, it works as my teenage son loved it. Personally I would have preferred this to have much more political and social commentary woven into the story rather than just concentrating on the family dynamic and the despatching of criminal gang members.
The last main criticism I make is that Gruff79 needs to find himself a decent editor. I'm not sure if this is a self-published book via Tabella or how much hands on they had in the final product but I found some rather simple spelling mistakes that detracted from the work. A good editor could have rooted that out, although I suspect this may have been due to the book not being storyboarded prior to production.
Still, despite all this, it's not bad for a first effort. The final piece is well put together and will look good on a bookshelf. V For Vendetta it isn't, but this is a learning curve for this new author/artist and I'm hoping he can take the lessons he will have learned from the production of this Volume into future instalments of this series.