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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,668 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Collecting all six issues of the first Kabuki series plus the hard to find prequel one-shot with new pages of art from scenes that for space reasons were left out of the original story. It also includes in-depth notes and story analysis about the subtext of the story. Circle of Blood recounts the origins of the government operative known as Kabuki who works in Japan's near ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Image Comics (first published January 1st 2001)
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(showing 1-30)
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David Katzman
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: comix
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
James Carmichael
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
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
Sheila Rooswitha
Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphicnovels
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
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a decent graphic novel that reminded me a lot of the Kill Bill movies. The story basically looks at Japanese government and the yakuza. There is a secret organization that has a number of women assassins that work for them, one of these assassins is Kabuki. The story alternates between the yakuza/government scenes, the assassination scenes, and more intimate scenes where we learn about Kabuki’s past and how she ended up as she is now.

I enjoyed the scenes where Kabuki talks about her pas
Kevin Fanning
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
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
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nick Burns
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first volume of the acclaimed Kabuki series is nothing less than an impressive, inimitable work of genius. Stunning panel work, a beautiful story of revenge, and symbolism out the wazoo make for the perfect intro to an iconic series.
The fact that the work is in black and white only makes the effort all the more impressive. This is the one that started it all; one read and you'll be begging for more.
Elgaroo Brenza
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ALL fans of comics, Japanese culture, cyberpunk, ACTION, graphic design, cutting edge visual art.
Shelves: favorites, comics
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
Scarlet Risque
KABUKI Series is my greatest inspiration to everything I do. I was gifted with this book by my then boyfriend, who said I reminded him of the character of this book. Oh boy, he was right. The best part of my realisation is that this story is written by a white guy from a Japanese girl first person point of view. That is amazing, for someone to understand write so deeply from a asian female perspective. I was more curious about the author after reading this series. That was the beginning of my qu ...more
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Jessica Bingham
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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.
Mark Ballinger
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
A troupe of assassins lean heavily on Japanese tropes. I got disinterested pretty quickly.
Paige Hadley
The Kabuki series opened my eyes to the boundless potential of the graphic novel genre. Not only is the plot the definition of epic, but its gorgeous art style destroys expectations. The core of Kabuki is personal transformation – rewriting one’s identity, history, and culture to live a new narrative. It explores the binary of inner/outer self, with the motif of masks to protect/represent true self. I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve raved about this series to friends. It is an unforgettable ...more
Ian Wood
Apr 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
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-
Elizabeth Reuter
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Chung
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-book
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
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm honestly confused about my opinion of this book. Japanese history and folklore, cyberpunk, ultraviolence, haiku poetry and characters that look like Siouxie - what could go wrong?

And in fact, most of it kept me enthralled and excited. Kabuki's backstory is original and dramatic; the worldbuilding is deeply rooted in a 1980s Blade Runner/William Gibson esthetics, an imagery that was all the rage when pre-economic bubble Japan was about to become the most powerful country in the world; the gr
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I met David Mack at the AsiaPop Comic Con in Manila this year. He's a very friendly and accommodating author whose stunning portfolio features the whimsical use of watercolor, one of the highlights of Kabuki's additional art. As others have mentioned, there were some stylistic oddities (why are some words in bold?) and inconsistencies with pacing, not to mention tone - from standard comic book action fare to long passages of profound internal reflection. However, the symbolism is remarkable. The ...more
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
this book was in the unenviable position of seeming perfectly-suited for me. when i first heard about it, it seemed like the perfect storm of my interests and thus i had infinitely-high expectations. inevitably, it fell short of those—not everything can be the sandman—but it was still quite good.

things started off slow so i ended up putting down the book for like a month but once i got about a quarter into it, i was 100% sold: the writing is really interesting and demands your full attention; th
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This should be at the top of your list of "must-read graphic novels". Whether you are a seasoned comic book fanboy (or girl) or a noob to the world of comic art, Kabuki is a masterpiece to be enjoyed by all.

Every word is poetry, with hidden meanings behind hidden meanings.
Every page is full of stunning visual manifestations of the author's poetic prose.

It took me three days to finish this novel. Not because it is so lengthy (although it is definitely not short), but because I wanted to savor
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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.
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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 (1 - 10 of 11 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
  • Kabuki Library Volume 1
  • Kabuki Library Volume 2
  • Kabuki Library Volume 3
  • Kabuki Library Volume 4

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