Musashi #9 Vol. 1

By Takahashi Miyuki
208 pages, black and white
Published by CMX/DC Comics

As strange as it may sound, I’m always a little more intrigued by books being brought over from Japan that are still ongoing series. Maybe it’s because the ending doesn’t yet exist, meaning that you’ve still got surprises in store for you, the conclusion yet to be formed. It’s one of the reasons why I first picked up the book Musashi #9 from DC’s new CMX imprint as I scanned the shelves for something new. Of course, the real question isn’t “is it still going?” but rather, “is it any good?”

Ultimate Blue is a secret organization that some call the “other United Nations”. Pledged to the cause of world peace, their nine agents are trained to handle just about anything, each a super-weapon in their own right. The most powerful of the nine agents, though, is Agent #9, code-named Musashi. And unlike the other agents, Musashi is just a 16-year old girl. What’s truly impressive, though, is that Musashi’s been doing this for a decade. Yeah, she’s that good.

The first volume of Musashi #9 contains four missions for Musashi, and there’s a lot to both like and dislike about them. These missions are one that are full of action and intrigue, and it’s fun to watch Musashi just plow through her enemies in a variety of manners. From infiltrating a heavily guarded compound to posing as a transfer student into a local high school, there might possibly be nothing that Musashi can’t handle. The problem, though, is that we’re just four stories in and already some elements are starting to repeat. Is it really necessary for all four stories to have everyone think that Musashi is a boy instead of a girl, for instance? What was a dramatic reveal in the first story, provided you hadn’t read the back cover copy, loses its impact with each repetition. (If anything, all it really accomplishes is making the other characters look stupid.) Hopefully this is an element that gets dropped over time, because it’s bound to get more annoying with each appearance. The other problem I had with the book is the fact that this could get old pretty quickly without the presence of a larger storyline. It could very well be that in the second volume of Musashi #9 that something like that appears, but until then I can’t help but be a little worried about the book. Like I said, this is something that could be solved in the books to come (I know it’s a fear some people had with Lone Wolf and Cub in the early volumes until the big storyline made its appearance), but the repetition in just the first book is never a good sign.

Takahashi Miyuki draws Musashi #9 with a thin, graceful line. In the early stages of stories this works well, Miyuki presenting a calm, cool, and collected vision of Japan that will then get disrupted by terrorist groups and their plans. The art is nice and smooth, although there’s a distinct lack of backgrounds in the majority of the book. The part where this art style doesn’t work as well is once everything heats up, though. It means you’ve got people crawling through air ducts with perfectly coiffed hair and looking like they’re still in the safety of their offices instead of fighting for their lives. It’s a little distracting, to put it mildly. The one place where this could work would be to portray Musashi as calmly untouched by the carnage around her, but when it extends to everyone in the scene it loses its impact.

Musashi #9 Vol. 1 was an interesting book, but I’m not sure about coming back for more. This is ultimately a prime example of needing to wait and see what the second volume holds. If the story begins to move forward and show signs of progress, I’m definitely going to give it a try. If the series is ultimately nothing but single-episode “Musashi saves the day” exercises, I think one volume’s worth is enough for me. It’s fun, but this very much feels like something where a little can go a long way.

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