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Okko: The Cycle of Water    by Hub order for
by Hub
Order:  USA  Can
Archaia Studios Press, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

A monk, a ronin, an orphan, and a large, strong, beastly-looking biped walk into a brothel. Have you heard this one before? Well, it's not a joke but the opening premise to a new series by artist/writer Hub. Set in 12th century Japan, Okko: The Cycle of Water follows the adventures of this strange grouping as they pursue the kidnappers of Little Carp, the sister of the orphan (Tikku).

When raiders enter the brothel where Little Carp works, visiting giant Noburo is not strong enough to fight them off and Little Carp is kidnapped. The only other survivors are Tikku and a drunken monk named Noshin. When Okko, a demon-hunting ronin arrives, the four form an alliance to return Little Carp to Tikku. However, Tikku ultimately hopes to become a ronin like Okko. Along the way, they encounter beasts, mystical spirits, and thugs who often stand in their way. But as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that fate has bound these four unique individuals and it is through their bonds and abilities that they will be able to defeat the sinister forces at work in their world.

The story as a whole is fun and enjoyable, filled with just the right amount of action, mysticism, sincerity and a double-dash of mysterious warrior with noble purpose. Hub's plotting pulls readers in rather quickly, integrating a client-host relationship between Noburo and Little Carp, with a watchful and attentive Tikku nearby, and Noshin stumbling into the scene. All this is within the first few pages, creating the crux of relationships throughout the story.

The art reveals a hint of manga but is predominantly Western in approach. Hub is creative with his action and more violent scenes, but most impressive in the color schemes that he utilizes throughout the book. Constantly, he provides a particular shade or hue that will dominate specific environments or situations that permeate all objects in the panels. Hub also signs every page in the bottom right hand panel along with page number; something not many artists do nowadays.

Hub has an eye for action, and weaves together an intriguing setting, beautiful landscapes and scenery, along with amusing and interesting characters. With this first chapter done, it will be interesting to see how this story evolves further, portraying Tikku's growth along with supporting subplots for audiences to enjoy.

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