Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
If you’re looking for creepy, action-packed horror, King of Eden may be your ticket to Scaresville. The new Yen Press manga series has dropped in America right in time for the spooky season and it features a monster hunter, a mysterious backstory to a virus that changes people, and plenty of bloody horror. Not for the faint of heart, the series is geared towards a slightly older audience and even features Biblical underpinnings.
King of Eden opens in a small town where everything is way too quiet. Two police officers are investigating and the silence is defeating and quite disturbing. Soon, they come across a pile of bodies and a man standing atop it. The opening is a good example of how the narrative plays against your expectations. Shortly thereafter, a monstrous humanoid figure is attacking them and things get dangerous fast. The opening works to give us just enough details to be interested in plenty of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.
As the first volume progresses, there is a healthy mix of scenes and scene changes. A good chunk of the story takes place in a police department in an interrogation setting, where we learn what these monsters are and how it’s all tethered to a virus that changes people into what appears to be werewolves. By the end of the volume, there is an all-out war in the countryside, attacks in small villages, and detective work involving archeological digs.
The latter details are where the narrative gets its most compelling aspects, as the story goes back thousands of years. The Biblical elements are interesting, tethering the narrative to ancient stories that go back to Cain and Abel. Series writer Takashi Nagasaki doesn’t let it get too religious though, since scientists and scientific study play a part in the story. The story may be too close to home for some — the root of the danger comes from a virus, after all — but it helps ground the somewhat outlandish monster reveals.
Much of this manga is about figuring out what is going on through a character named Dr. Rua Itsuki. She can fight, specializes in viruses and ancient history, and has an international background. In a way, she’s like the Indiana Jones of virology. Her interest in history helps bring in important information, some true and some myth, so as to uncover what is really going on with the virus. She also serves as an adequate stand-in for the audience since she’s completely in the dark as to what is really going on.
On the flip side, another protagonist named Teze Yoo allows the us to get an inside look at what is going on. This mysterious monster hunter holds key details close to the chest, and allows the narrative to reveal key details as needed. The character is a little too simplistic, though, and acts more as a cliche anti-hero with a dark past. You might grow tired of him, but he’s effective enough to push the narrative forward. Just don’t expect to be all that interested in his journey.
Thf the stronger elements of horror in the book is the ancient artifacts or old-world elements have a haunting nature to them. Underneath the bloody and violent werewolves resides a haunting mystery of a virus locked away for centuries only to rise up again now. You get that scary vibe throughout and that adds a bit of horror to areas of the story where the gore and monsters aren’t present.
King of Eden Vol. 1 is a good start to a horror series that mixes ancient history, viruses, and good old fashioned monster madness. If you’re exhausted with the idea of a virus narrative steer clear, but for the most part, there’s a lot here to enjoy.
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