By Leroy Douresseaux
Apr 28, 2007 - 10:33
This manga series chronicles the untold story of Graystripe, a warrior of the ThunderClan who finds himself trapped in a life as a kittypet of a human (twoleg) family. Taking place between the second and third series of Warriors novels, The Lost Warrior manga finds Graystripe all but domesticated, having just about given up finding his way back to the forest. Living in a sprawling suburban area, he has no idea which direction is home, and every time, he ventures from his yard, he becomes disoriented or ends up fighting a bruiser of a domesticated cat in a nearby yard.
Graystripe meets a kittypet named Millie, and they strike up a friendship. When Millie convinces Graystripe to teach her how to live and hunt in the wild, Graystripe finds himself yearning even more to return home. He decides to try to leave the twoleg homeland, but will Millie join him and will either survive journey?
The last year has seen TOKYOPOP’s OEL (original English language) manga greatly improve in quality. Even the company’s OEL adaptation of the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth (Jim Henson’s Return to Labyrinth) was very good. Warriors: The Lost Warrior, Vol. 1 is by no means a let down in quality.
Writer Dan Jolley hits the ground running, showing the chops of a veteran comic book writer by concisely and quickly bringing the reader into Erin Hunter’s world of Warriors. Within a few pages, he’s established a context by which virtually any reader can recognize the Warriors’ world as quite similar to our own. That makes it easier to accept Warriors’ central conceit of cats as intelligent, organized, and social beings. Jolley presents this fantasy/action series as an epic quest where the hero fights against all odds simply to return home – another way of making this both familiar and believable.
Artist James Barry draws in a manner that is similar to animated films. His compositions present fully realized sets and well-drawn characters and also moves the narrative along without sacrificing mood. His “cartoony” style may not be as textured as that of comic artists who draw heavily detailed pictures, but in the space of 100 pages, he captures the futility of Graystripe’s quest, his sorrow and disappointment, his depression and frustration, and ultimately his dogged determination not to give up. We even feel the joy of his friendship with Millie and the heartbreaking joy of his dream life which allows him to see his deceased love ones. At the same time, Barry captures the concept’s inherit sense of magic and fantasy.
I don’t know how fans of the prose novels feel about this Warriors manga, but I can say that this is indeed the good stuff.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the images.