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Kabuki, Vol. 1: Circle of Blood (Kabuki #1)

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,430 ratings  ·  94 reviews
In a story that spans Japan's history and future, and alludes to the haunting traditions of the Japanese Ghost story, Kabuki: Circle of Blood touches on the interdependence between organized crime and politics in Japan.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Image Comics (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,770)
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David Katzman
Kabuki is a series about transformation. Yes, it has beautiful art. Yes, it has great writing. And while the central theme of the narrative is transformation, what I found even more powerful is the way the art of the stories transforms from collection to collection, seeming to mirror the character’s evolution.

I have met David Mack a couple times at Comicon, and I’ve been meaning to ask him if he always intended from the beginning for the story to be about transformation and to move from standard
Nicolo Yu
Kabuki is an appropriate name for David Mack’s anti-hero. Like the traditional Japanese drama it draws its name, the character is a complex creation with layers upon layers of story, technique and nuance. It is a story that Mack has poured a lot of himself in to produce. He draws upon his fascination and knowledge of the Japan; its language, society and its sub-cultures, his martial arts experience and his ingenious application of various visual art media. It is a well-researched, beautifully wr ...more
James Carmichael
I tried picking Kabuki up in the middle, and it seemed intense and rich but a little opaque, in its meandering narrative and manipulation of standard comic book art and formats. I'm very glad I began at the beginning with this. David Mack's style is very, for lack of a better word, "artistic", and it's satisfying to be told a fairly traditional genre story (super-fighting woman, organized crime, secret police force that keeps the balance, paternity and origin issues) with as much freedom as Kabu ...more
Elgaroo Brenza
Sep 14, 2013 Elgaroo Brenza rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ALL fans of comics, Japanese culture, cyberpunk, ACTION, graphic design, cutting edge visual art.
Shelves: comics, favorites
One of the most appalling and depressing things to me about the movie industry is that this comic has STILL not been made into a film. It would be hands down the greatest, classiest, most cerebral action movie ever made, putting even "The Matrix" to shame (In fact, I'm rather surprised they bothered making something OTHER than this film in the first place, as I doubt they weren't inspired by it, and wouldn't be surprised if they did some day; maybe they just didn't want to be too obvious...?P It ...more
I remember seeing the Kabuki comics everywhere, all the time when I was a teenager and I remember all of the super striking covers I'd see every time I went to the comic bookstore, but I was wary of their hot asian lady exploitation and never picked one up. I recently came across this at the library though and thought I'd give it a try.

I get a similar feeling reading David Mack as I do reading some of the other big male comics guys like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman. There's just a
Kevin Fanning
I was glad I didn't read this one first. The series is SO GOOD later on, but it makes sense it would take the artist a while to build up steam. This was interesting for completists, but compared to the stuff that comes later it doesn't hold up.

It's mostly engaging from an acadmic perspective. More than once he takes two pages to gloss over a story arc that other comics would take years to cover. Like how The first two seasons of The OC were. Really? Kai infiltrated the Noh? Oh wait it's over. A
Sheila Rooswitha
David Mack really made me wonder, where have I been in my previous life? Where did those precious time go? Why did I always waste such productive time to develop my skill?
As a struggling-amateur-comic artist-wannabe, this superb book was like a slap in my face. He created this divinely wonderful book as a dissertation in order to graduate from his art college, when he was still 22!!! Artistically drawn in B/W, with stunning accuracy in human anatomy, this book is like a radiant treasure before m
The first time I read Circle of Blood, I didn't think it was that great. I was mainly turned off by the black and white artwork and over the top violence. However, upon reading it a second time, I was able to look past the lack of color to see how amazing the artwork really is.

Kabuki contains arguably the best artwork you will ever see in comics. Different styles of art are used to express different emotions. An image from one scene "fades" into another creating visual connections all throughou
My issue is that I don't really know how to read graphic novels effectively. I feel this novel would have been a lot better and a lot more symbolic, had I gotten the deeper meaning by better combining pictures and text. The artwork is gorgeous, which was my original reason for reading this nook! The text, too, is very insightful.

"You can't kill time... without injuring eternity. Time always catches up with you."

Basically, this book is about a young woman's struggle being stuck in between politic
There is a lot to like here, especially some of the exotic black and white minimalist artwork, and the overall story concept, of a group of sexy, deadly female ninjas with the lead assassin scarred by a dark past. But there are things that bothered me as well. The art often seemed copied from earlier panels, and it just seemed lazy. There was a bit too much repetition, which is sometimes unavoidable, but it could have been handled better. I didn't always think the narration was needed. Tell the ...more
I kinda went about reading this series backwards. I randomly picked up The Alchemy (which is the last book) at the library and ZOMG it's so good! Like amazing and maybe the most beautiful graphic novel ever. Just loved it. So now I'm starting at the beginning and it's a great start. It's just black and white yet still has so many pages I could just rip out and frame. The complex story is told with relatively few words and great artwork. It's not so complicated that reading the last one was a tot ...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
A very well done, but dark graphic novel following a group of assassins whose purpose is to maintain the balance of the political and economic systems of Japan. The book covers a period from the end of world war II to what appears to be the early twenty-first century. As you see with many graphic novels of this nature, the term graphic is used quite liberal here with quite a bit of gore, and violence. At this point it seems that it is "par for the course" for the medium and since it is in black ...more
Jessica Bingham
I don't even know where to start with this book! I was reluctant to read it. It was recommended to me by a patron at the library. Generally, I am not a fan of just black and white comics. It took me a while to actually pick it up and start it. Once I did, I could not put it down.
I really wanted to like the Kabuki series. I'd read the Scarab book first and loved it. David Mack's art is phenomenal. However I just couldn't get into the main Kabuki issues. I just wanted to stare at David Mack's art.
Melissa Chung
I am rating this graphic novel 4.5 stars. It lost a 1/2 star because the beginning was so confusing and I had to get used to reading the panels.

Kabuki Vol 1: Circle of Blood reads like a Historical Fiction/ Japanese action flick. Kabuki was born to a dead mother and a murdering father. At the beginning of story we learn all about the Ainu people and how the women were taken from their homes and "given" to the Japanese troops during WWII as a morale booster. They had become slaves to these men as
Jeff Lanter
When I first started reading comics, one of the very first books I picked up was Powers which always had ads for Kabuki in it. Five or so years later, I was lucky enough to meet David Mack and buy Kabuki straight from him. I've had a lot of graphic novels over the past five years and I think that prepared me to appreciate Kabuki. It is much more intelligent and layered than most of the graphic novels I've read. It tackles Japanese history and culture and technology among other themes. It also ha ...more
This one warrants a good re-reading. There's a plethora of metaphors and cross-cultural literary references to mine here. I really enjoyed the storyline, which, if handled in any other way would have been very easy to sum up as a simplistic revenge tale. Mack is masterful with his use of both text and image to convey much more than the surface of his media. This is a graphic novel in it's truest sense of the term. I found that it was dense enough that I had to actually slow down my usually fast ...more
Elizabeth Reuter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kabuki was one of my favorite comics series when I was in high school, and I remember really loving it. I tried to reread it, and... it's really not grabbing me like it used to. Oh, the art is beautiful (though really I love Kabuki when it starts getting into color) and the story itself is interesting, thoughtful, and clearly done with a lot of love... but it's also really unflinchingly brutal, and I guess I just wasn't in the mood for that.
I have friends who are Kabuki fans, so the series came with high recommendations. I wish I was more excited by this, but other than elements of Japanese mythology, history, politics, and culture, I found myself unimpressed with the story itself - rather run of the mill, with nothing new to bring to the table. I'm also not fond of the art in this volume; it skirts dangerously close to Patrick Nagel (whom I loathe) here and there, though occasionally there's a wonderful Aubrey Beardsley touch. Hav ...more
Michaela Hutfles
Nothing is prettier in comics than that which David Mack creates. This heady weight tome is a comic unlike many others, just thumb through it and look and the paneling. Through out the story Mack reiterates on themes with certain visual elements until you have an almost Pavlovian reaction to these visual elements, then he begins laying them and telling you new themes with the words but pulling in a sophisticated visual short hand to remind of the previously established thematic elements.
Just lov
The story is very fractured. There are many ellipses. There are bolded words that seem to have no purpose or reason for being so -- why are they emphasized?
I'm reading this series in completely the wrong order - #6, #3, and now #1. But it's kind of like filling in the gaps, in a series where gaps are the staple diet.

A nearish-future tale of Japan that Quentin Tarantino could easily have spun Kill Bill back through time from. The story is enough to be interesting, and not complicated enough to be confusing. But the real joy, the 5 stars for this review, is in the telling. The temporal flicks and running themes tie directly into the amazing artwork.
I like this book because it's very ambitious. Mack overloads the pages with as much material as possible. The art is pretty fantastic and you can see his style develop even in this one book. The dialogue was very hit or miss. Sometimes he would use words to emphasize what is happening on the canvas to great success, but whenever he would attempt to use too much prose, it would fall flat. It's a very rough book with plenty of shining moments that make it worth the read.
Brillant. Just Brilliant. This is what comics should be.
Craig Henderson
Back in the day when I was a die-hard comics collector, I was used to the usual (and brilliant) marvel comics and all of their trappings. Then I saw Kabuki (can't remember which issue) and totally fell in love with David Mack's style. The way the panels flow organically and the way in which the story unfolds is quite unlike anything else out there, so it's a really unique reading experience.

I'm really lucky to own the original issues of this comic series and won't part with them for love nor mo
beautiful artwork. beautiful writing.
I am really enjoying my re-read of my favorite comic book series. It has been about a decade since I discovered Kabuki, and it is still amazing. The art is outstanding. The story is intriguing, and this is only volume 1.
pollyanna patel
intense narrative
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

David W. Mack is a comic book artist and writer, best known for his creation Kabuki and his work on the Marvel Comics titles Daredevil and Alias

The author of the Star Trek Novels is David Mack
More about David W. Mack...

Other Books in the Series

Kabuki (7 books)
  • Kabuki, Vol. 2: Dreams
  • Kabuki, Vol. 3: Masks of the Noh
  • Kabuki, Vol. 4: Skin Deep
  • Kabuki, Vol. 5: Metamorphosis
  • Kabuki, Vol. 6: Scarab, Lost in Translation
  • Kabuki, Vol. 7: The Alchemy
Daredevil, Vol. 2: Parts of a Hole Kabuki, Vol. 2: Dreams Kabuki, Vol. 5: Metamorphosis Kabuki, Vol. 4: Skin Deep Kabuki, Vol. 3: Masks of the Noh

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