Year: 2018 – 2020 (completed)
Author: Lee Jongkyu
Genre: Manhwa, Action, Crime, Thriller, Drama
Today, I decided to finally begin posting “first looks” at different series. These reviews will cover free reads available for computer users rather than a tablet or smartphone users initially due to current constraints, but I do intend to change this to a tablet at some stage in the not-so-distant future given that a lot of platforms offer significantly longer previews via mobile apps.
Why start with this series? Well, it is a series that keeps popping up on my recommended reads list and I figure ‘why not?’ given that I have been focusing more on romance titles of late. Besides, a good action, adventure and/or thriller can be a heck of a lot of fun.
In this post, I will be discussing the crime thriller The Blue Land currently available at Toomics (series page). There, you will find the prologue to the second chapter available to read free of charge.
Prologue / repeat as chapter 1: flashforward of our suited, scar-faced male protagonist arriving at the funeral of a man that he recently killed. It is heavily raining. After entering the building, he makes it to the casket room where he meets one of the “victim’s” minions and the two agree to duke it out. When he leaves the front door, a sea of mobsters are waiting outside and he makes note of the date as being the birthday of somebody he used to know.
Chapter 2: Back in time, our now unscarred violent crimes detective Kang Jungwoo is waiting in a car with his partner and we are shown by his level of focus that he cares more about his job than his private life. In the background, there are numerous political signs pertaining to a politician named Lee Jaejoon who is running on an anti-corruption platform. [foreshadowing? I think so, Jim!] Kang Jungwoo is lectured by his buddy about how neglecting his girlfriend especially on her birthday will one day get him dumped. [more foreshadowing? Yessom!]
Not long after this, a woman in lingerie runs out out of an alleyway in terror with a scantily-clad gangster chasing after her. Our male protagonist engages in some police brutality in order to check the guys privileged attitude before placing him in handcuffs. After he spies some dodgy business at a hotel up the road, Jungwoo arranges for his partner to take the guy to the police station while he heads over to investigate. Making use of some basic parkour, our male lead scales and enters the building to find dodgy dealings going down.
This story leaves the blocks with a typical Manhwa beginning that gives the reader the promise of things to expect from the series. We see our hardened male protagonist walk into the funeral giving zero f*cks about all of the people around him that clearly want to do him in. Unlike a lot of Manhwa beginnings, however, this start is followed up immediately by placing at least one of those things into context rather than leaving the reader confused. We learn that Jungwoo is a cop that puts his job before his personal life, something that will likely have ramifications later. Whilst he comes off as a man of justice, we can also see that there will be a cost for that desire for justice later on.
On top of the storytelling elements, the artwork does a great job of adding further to the tone of the series, with lots of black, white and red being used. Whilst the artwork is gritty it doesn’t overdo it either. The POV angles in the beginning chapter, just as an example, give the indication of violence to come but not to the over-the-top levels of the Sin City franchise.
Something as simple as the origins of the scar on Jungwoo’s face in the first chapter provides a decent hook for reading more of this series. Whilst the story hasn’t got there yet, the first two chapters (chapters 1 and 2) give the feeling of a big-budget Asian action film. Examples? Raid and some of the later instalments of Jackie Chan’s The Police Story franchise. This is a good thing given that a lot of webtoon platforms are flooded by convoluted romantic dramas instead of series that tell a compelling, action-packed story.
So, did the free reads do a good job of reeling in this fish? Yes. I am genuinely intrigued by the storyline so far and interested in seeing the changes that the protagonist will undergo throughout the next eighty-seven chapters. I am really looking forward to some gratuitous violence in the chapters ahead as well. I want to see Jungwoo crack the heads of some bad guys, pronto.