Terror Man: A Wacky Korean Twist on the Vigilante Superhero
Terror Man is a wacky take on the vigilante superhero story that's uniquely Korean that skirts its dark, grim subject matter with slapstick farce and the oddest variation on Batman you'll ever see.
Terror Man starts with a bang. A masked, costumed terrorist named Terror Man (who else?) shows up in the middle of the city and warns everyone to get out of there before he blows up the area. Then the story flashes back to a teenage orphan named Min Jung-Woo, who has a unique psychic ability as nearly every hero of a Korean manhwa must – he can see the near future and tell when something is going to go wrong or someone is in danger. Guess how a shy, teenage orphan millionaire becomes a vigilante who has to become a fake terrorist to save lives while he hunts the real terrorists.
Terror Man is a Nutty Twist on Batman
Terror Man is a wacky variation on the Batman story, as only Korean comics can do. Jung-Woo has a sexy Russian guardian with a mysterious past and badass fighting and spy skills to serve as his Alfred and her ne'er-do -well, sexually ambiguous foreigner (read: Western) buddy to back him up. Jung-Woo lost his mother years ago and discovers the terrorists currently trying to blow up chunks of Korea might be her killers, so his mission becomes personal to him. Except Jung-Woo is an awkward teenager with low self-esteem, so he's going to need all the help he can get. Especially when he doesn't realise the terrorists are plotting with a politician to scare the public into supporting his policies.
All this is set up, which the first volume establishes. It's nice to read the comic in actual comics form with page layouts and panel design instead of the top-down scroll format for reading on the phone. Terror Man here looks like a proper comic rather than a webcomic. What makes Terror Man a Korean comic is that extra craziness in the plot and characters, the wackiness in how the hero has to look like a villain in order to operate, and the distrust in big business and politicians that's more intense in Korean society than in Japanese society. There's less of a need to conform in Korean stories than in Japanese stories. The cartoonish style of the artwork that slips into slipstick silliness telegraphs how seriously you're supposed to take the story rather than treat it as grimdark and serious for a comic about terrorist bombings.
Manga and manhwa stories like Terror Man are generally critic-proof. You're either into this kind of wacky, convoluted adventure thriller, or you're not. As long as it doesn't become dull, these comics will have done their job.
Terror Man Vol. 1 is published by Ablaze.
A wacky take on the vigilante superhero story that's uniquely Korean that skirts its dark, grim subject matter with hijacks, farce and a wildly convoluted story involving psychic powers, terrorism, corrupt politicians, big business and a nutty variation on the Batman story.
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