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

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  1,084 ratings  ·  77 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 January 1st 2001 by Image Comics
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Community Reviews

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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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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....more
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...more
Dexter/Persy - RAMFAP 2013!
I could not put it down. From the very first page I was taken in by the absolutely beautiful art and enthralling story. It's so easy to get caught up in. It feels like it should be really complicated, but it's actually pretty easy to follow. It's a surreal, mind-blowing ride that I already want to take again. And the story is so -good- that David Mack gets away with being very, very dramatic. In anything else it would seem a bit over the top, but it's just so -perfect- that it fits right in.

Autumn Eden
David Mack is not your average comic book artist and his books are definitely not your average comic books! The art is ridiculously beautiful. The books are well written and thoughtful. I can't rush through his books. There is so much to take in visually and he uses his art to add to his stories. For example, in one scene characters are playing Scrabble - you need to read the board because the words that are spelled out are part of the story. I know his books require that you pay attention but i...more
I bought Kabuki because I'm a fan of some of David's other work. I've met him 3 times and this last time I decided to finally cave and pick up his creator owned work. Durning the process of reading Kabuki I did a complete 180. I found the first 80-100 pages nearly un-readable to the point I nearly gave up on it. However, once we got to Kabuki's orgin and the story of her mother things really picked up. In the end I liked it and will likely buy volume 2 if I attend the NY con this year.
Emily Joyce
Kabuki is packed full of dense, metaphorical black and white art. Mack has created a vaguely dystopic Japan with hints of neo noir and cyber punk, a place where beautiful women in masks visit the television screens to pass on government reminders, and off screen deal out death in the name of political balance. Every page is complex and deserves a second reading, and the storytelling is full of allusions and references to literature, mythology, and history.
The first of the Kabuki series, this book is definitely the bloodiest and most sexually charged of the entire series. It almost seems like Mack had to get this one out of his system so that he could get to the more intellectual, experimental, playful stuff he's doing now. I enjoy reading Circle of Blood for the story, but the black and white comic art style Mack uses for this book disappoints me after having gotten used to his newer, more eclectic style.
this book had a huge influence on me when i first read it; it's a huge part of why i decided to make a career in graphic design. it's so beautifully illustrated, and the artwork only gets better as they go along. and on top of being a masterpiece of graphic design, it has a spectacular story line as well. i've been waiting for years for this to be made into a movie, and i'm still at odds with myself as to whether or not that would be a good thing.
It's dramatic - violent, bloody, but also painfully beautiful at times. Black and white illustration serves it well. In color it would be tawdry. But in black and white, it's powerful. The drawings are skilled and powerful. I'd like to see how the rest of the series turns out. And it's made me want to read some Japanese and Ainu mythology...because I suspect there's a lot of that behind this book which I've missed.
It was compared to (and the book itself referred to) Hamlet and Alice and Wonderland, and reading this book felt much the same, like a book I have to finish because it's called a classic. For whatever reason, I felt bored and that I just had to trudge through and find out what happened. I think I got some of layers and references mentioned, but it did not add to my appreciation of this book.
David Mack's art is impeccable. He shows that the medium can be more than just a comic book and can be a work of visual art. That said, some of the dialogue and plot elements were a bit heavy-handed, unfortunately trite, and hard to buy into. All of it, of course, was a way to lead into some of his amazing artwork, but it shows a writer just starting to grow comfortable with his choices.
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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...
Kabuki, Vol. 2: Dreams Kabuki, Vol. 5: Metamorphosis Kabuki, Vol. 4: Skin Deep Kabuki, Vol. 3: Masks of the Noh Daredevil, Vol. 2: Parts of a Hole

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