Dark Horse is publishing this Korean mahwa by Kim Sung-Jae and Kim Byung-Jin, and it’s of the more perfunctorily told narratives I’ve come across in a bit. The story purportedly involves twins, one of whom is the rightful emperor and one of whom is a demon spawn of some sort. An ugly jewel icon thing is supposed to distinguish between them in the cradle, but the two are unaccountably left alone, allowing evil demon baby to shove the jewel thing into the chest of the good guy. Good baby grows up to be tortured and, for unclear reasons, virtually unkillable. He is exiled and wanders off to hook up with some random warrior clan, to whom he brings much woe and lamentation, for that is his curse. Said clan includes several supposedly colorful, but actually completely indistinguishable, characters, who provide what passes for comic relief between the alternating scenes of vicious dismemberment and inarticulate angst. Chunchu, who brings death to all and then whines about it, is way, way, way less interesting than Elric or Thomas Covenant, and it’s been a good long time since I wanted to read about either of those folks.

It’s hard to be that pissy about it, though, since it’s obvious that the writing here is little more than a distant afterthought. There’s a lot more attention paid to the art, which, while it doesn’t blow me away, is certainly nicely done. Kim Byung-Jin tends towards a less realistic style than some I’ve seen in this genre, but that works quite well for the creepy hyper-deformed baby sequence, and he does have the chops to pull off an excellent naturalistic wart-hog close-up when the script calls for it. Some of the heavily-muscled warriors recall the unfortunate excesses of super-hero comics — torsoes just aren’t anatomically built like that. But then, the close-up expressive limpid eyes often hit that shoujo sweet spot.

So yeah, pretty mediocre. But “Genocide Fiend” is a great title.