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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 7

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at the first two volumes of Dan Hipp’s Gyakushu…


You probably know Dan Hipp as the artist on the amazing comic book series The Amazing Joy Buzzards (along with writer Mark Smith). If you don’t know about the Joy Buzzards, well…that’s a future installment of this feature right there.

Anyhow, Hipp is a mighty fine artist – a guy who is known for his dynamic manga-esque artwork. He put out a series from Tokyopop called Gyakushu – two volumes of the three volume work have been released.

Just in case you were wondering what “Gyakushu” means, exactly, Hipp nicely explains it in the first volume.

Gyakushu is about a daring thief who went on many adventures with his two thief buddies – one, a man who he grew up with since childhood and the other, a woman who loved him although he ended up falling for her sister.

He retired from thievery to raise his son with his wife (the aforementioned sister) in an idyllic village far from the troubles of society.

Of course, things never go well.

The narrator of the tale explains just how poorly things went…


Click on the last page to enlarge.

(By the by, in the second volume, there is a great twist involving the narrator. I was quite impressed).

The story of the series is about that thief who has somehow survived the horrors of the past, and now, years later, he is back for revenge (going by just “The Thief). Due to his injuries, he is basically a freak, forced to wear bandages from head to foot because of his grave wounds (he looks like a walking mummy, essentially). However, he is driven to keep on due to his motivation of attaining revenge on all those who have wronged him.

It’s a dark tale of revenge and violence, and Hipp does a great job of darkening his typical lighter style to fit the mood of the book perfectly.

Really, the first volume of Gyakushu is carried a bit by Hipp’s art more than his writing. It is not that his writing is poor, but it is a bit clunky at times. Luckily, he has pages and pages of striking work to make Volume 1 still worth the read.

By the end of Volume 1, Hipp’s writing has sharpened up and in Volume 2, he improves greatly, weaving a much sharper story with a great deal of twists and turns and, of course, great fight sequences geared to his ultra-dynamic art style.

Here is a fun sequence from the first volume…

Things are even stronger in the second volume, while still maintaining the vitality and dynamism that you see above.

Gyakushu is a dark tale of revenge, yet Hipp is so dynamic with his sequences that you end up having fun reading it, despite the dark nature of it all! It’s a rollicking adventure with amazing artwork that gets trickier as volume two continues, with a finish that sets the whole tale on its end. It’s well worth a read.

And on that note, BOY are you in for a treat!!

You see, starting this Monday, January 11th, Hipp will be allowing readers to read the ENTIRETY of Volumes 1 AND 2!!

PLUS the first third of Volume 3!!!

This is all a part of the promotion for the release of Volume 3, which will hopefully be announced soon (although hopefully, if you like what you see, you’ll also buy Volumes 1 and 2 to have them in print form).

Go to the website http://www.thethiefisdead.blogspot.com/ this Monday to read this impressive first graphic novel by a great comic book creator.

In the future (separate from this feature) I’ll have a review of Volume 3, as well.

I sure hope that someone collects all three volumes into one big book at some point!


thanks for exposing me to this, looks like a great read, i’ve been looking for something that’ll make me feel like i did reading scott pilgrim, usagi yojimbo and atomic robo – this might be the book i’ve been looking for!

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 8, 2010 at 6:22 am

Too bad it’s not published by VIZ, they’ve a VIZBIG imprint for multiple volumes.

However, I’ll check my library for this title.

I tried Joy Buzzards in trade. I really liked the art but didn’t like the story much at all (not bad, just not my cup of tea). I like the writing on this way better, so I’m glad to find out about it. I get to try Hipp’s artwork again on a story that I actually like.

I don’t know, the art is… ok, and the concept sounds… not bad. I don’t see anything compelling here at all, which is I guess one of the drawbacks of these series breakdowns compared to the “moments” from last year: we don’t get much of a glimpse of the content and WHY it’s cool.

after seeing the art and learning the back ground of the characters will have to check this out.

i have to disagree stealthwise, the art here was great to me and shows me plenty about why this is cool. but i suspect that’s because i’m the kind of guy for who this is right up his alley. i love stylized, deceptively simple looking stylized art, especially when mangaesque. and the spaghetti western type tough guy showdowns are a weakness of mine.

T., I feel exactly the same way. Loved Hipp’s art on Joy Buzzards but didn’t click with the story even though the band angle was up my alley. Will definitely give this a shot!

diggity – i was shocked at how underwhelmed i was by Joy Buzzards story as well. like you, i felt the band concept was right up my alley. on paper it seemed totally like my kind of book. it wasn’t bad mind you, just adequate and mildly clever.

Wow! I’ve actually never heard of this (I think. If I did, I probably just said “Gzeundheit” to whoever told me about it). Looks pretty snazzy. I shall check this out.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 8, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Yeah, the Joy Buzzards were something I’d heard talked up for ages, but which turned out to be just as geek-insidery as superhero comics for a different group of geeky insiders. (Irma Vep references and luchadore jokes, for chrissakes?)

Maybe it IS just my preference, because I neither liked nor disliked the sampling that Brian put up above. We get a “now becoming cliched” narrator speaking cryptically of loss and love in events that is supposed to be compelling, but is in reality now as original as your average Metamucil commercial. Then we get some stylized (and by that I mean “looks like manga a bit, but not enough to offend our sensitive western eyes”) violence that’s done in a manner most of us have seen before about a thousand times.

All snark aside (and it’s been a while since I’ve out and out snarked, so it felt a bit good), it just looks like a poor man’s “Samurai Jack” or “Lone Wolf and Cub.” I could be wrong, but I won’t spend the money to find out.

stealthwise – no one’s trying to force you to like the thing bro. like i said, different strokes.

You’ve already read volume 3, Brian? You lucky bastard.

I cannot wait for the 11th.

Hipp’s also working on a couple of Ben10: Alien Force books with PAD for Del Rey Books. Those should be a blast.

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