March Story Vol. 2

Written by Hyung-min Kim
Art by Kyung-il Yang
192 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

A lot of people have become a bit obsessed with starting at the beginning of a series, or nowhere else at all. It’s not exclusive to comics, either; the number of people who won’t jump on board to a television series without seeing all the previous episodes is a prime example. But lately, I’ve found myself increasingly curious on seeing how well a series holds up if you don’t begin with the first volume. So when I came upon the second volume of March Story, I decided to give it a whirl even though I’ve never read the first book. Quite frankly, I’m glad that I did.

It was fairly easy to pick up the basic premise of March Story (even without the four sentence introduction right before the table of contents); March is a young woman who has the ability to banish demons known as "ill" that harbor inside both intricate artifacts as well as people. Slightly more subtle is that March is a woman disguised as a man, because of the ill inside of March that will take control should she ever fall in love. (Which seems slightly counter-intuitive but I’m willing to roll with it.) And so, with that in mind, we see March freeing people from ill, with a supporting cast including a young man that collects ill-purged artifacts, a woman who sends March on missions, and a fellow ill-hunter who seems slightly besotted with the disguised March. It’s easy to follow, and I don’t feel like I’m being hampered by not having read volume 1.

I do wonder, though, if reading March Story Vol. 1 might have meant that this new book might have been more surprising. That’s because while the first chapter of March Story Vol. 2 takes a traditional path of tracking down and stopping an ill—something that I can only guess is also what the previous chapters had followed—the rest of the book veers off the obvious route and starts showing the versatility of this concept. Instead we get stories where an ill possession is used for revenge, or where a woman is pregnant with an ill and can use the unborn being’s abilities to help rather than hinder. While I can’t say for certain that the earlier chapters were more standard, the one thing that’s definite is that I liked the more off-beat and inventive later chapters of this volume because it showed that writer Hyung-min Kim wasn’t going to rest on his laurels. I was also a little intrigued by new character Belma, the previously mentioned fellow hunter of ill who appears to have a bit of a crush on the "male" March. It could just be a strong friendship desire that’s gone slightly awry in translation, but lines like, "He’s so beautiful," and, "Long time no see, little cutie" are certainly flirtatious. It’s an unexpected (but welcome) turn, and I like that Kim and artist Kyung-il Yang make Belma the ultimate example of masculinity, bucking stereotypes.

I encountered Yang’s art many years ago on a series called Island, but in the intervening years Yang’s gone from good to excellent. His drawings are rich and flowing, with billowing hair, elaborate settings, and crazy fashions. Everything is slightly cranked up and exaggerated, but it works well for March Story. The ill in many ways amplify what’s around them, and Yang’s art takes that to the extreme. And unlike many artists in this genre, Yang’s not afraid to break the mold for his character designs. Instead of everything looking fragile and delicate, we get characters like the hyper-muscled Belma, or Jake’s massive head that looks like a paper-mache mask from a Mardi Gras parade. It’s a fun looking book overall.

March Story is a little fluffy in places, and the reason for March pretending to be a boy feels like a bit of a reach (and I groaned out loud when March is bathing and almost discovered, because it’s such a cliché) but on the whole I enjoyed the book. Did I need to read Volume 1 to understand it? Not at all. That said, I’ll probably pick up the first volume before too long, because this was fun enough want to read some more. And best of all? Kim and Yang understand that not all readers will start with chapter 1, and create their stories appropriately. It’s a refreshing change.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

2 comments to March Story Vol. 2

  • Personally I feel that if I don’t start something from the beginning I lose some of the aspects of the story that make me really bond and sympathize with the characters. Sometimes a small gesture/event means a lot to me and makes my enjoyment of the story a lot better. I tend to disagre with the “starting wherever” approach for stories, I think it tries to force a story to captivate you when you’ve put it at an unfair disadvantage right from the start. But I’m not entirely strict on this rule, I do think there are some situations where purposely skipping some parts is valid. But had I skipped volume 1 of March Story, I wouldn’t know March’s background story from a first hand point of view, and I don’t think I would be as sympathetic with her plight. Her past is considerably more tragic than just having to hide the fact that she has breasts.

  • suzysmiles

    i agree . volume 2 was much better . i was a little worried because the author gave away a huge secret in the first volume,(march being a girl)but he seems to make it work .
    march seems to be a complicated person with a hidden past . not to mention the overwelming drama that she kills her own kind . i can never guess what happens next and it always keeps me on my toes .its morbid but at the same time funny . i love it and cant wait for future volumes !!!!