Originality is something of an elusive force nowadays. Whether it’s in literature, film, music, etc, it just seems like everything is repeating or being re-used, remade, or re-imagined. I have found a virtual gem of originality in Kagan McLeod’s “Infinite Kung Fu” (read my interview with Kagan McLeod). What is this “Infinite Kung Fu” I speak of you ask? Well it’s a tome of martial arts goodness, a volume of zombie madness, a text full of fun! That’s what it is! Come join me as I take you on a quick tour through the Martial World.
Born of a love of all things kung fu, “Infinite Kung Fu” is a melting pot of kung fu pop culture references. It has Shaolin monks, Blaxsploitation Kung Fu, Poison Kung Fu masters, Supernatural Martial Arts, a bit of anime influence and last but certainly not least zombies. A mash-up of all things pop culture associated with kung fu, this independent comic brings everything you love about the genre in ass-kicking abundance. But the martial arts, as major a part they play is only the framing piece for the story.
In a world where there is now more death than life, martial arts reigns supreme. The dead rise from their graves searching for new bodies for their spirits to inhabit. The circle of life has all but ended. It is into this world that a young soldier named Yang Lei Kung will arise to become a legendary hero.
Sounds cool right? I mean I could be talking about some upcoming movie. And the reason is because McLeod, who wrote and drew the book, frames the story like you’re watching an old school Kung Fu flick, complete with sound effects for special moves. Lei Kung, the protagonist even fits the bill of the student who learns from several teachers, with his experiences being the actual lessons (he learns Shaolin Kung-Fu by keeping pigeons from crapping on their sparring automatons known as the Bronze Men).
I first came across this comic on a website from TopShelf, the publisher of the book. They had a preview and I voraciously read through it. When I got the actual book, I started over again and burned through that too. It was everything I loved about Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu flicks. Everything I’ve loved about the genre. The philosophy is there as well. I truly enjoyed the characters, the over-the-top fights, and the complete originality of it all. Where else can you find martial artists that look like they’re from the 70’s in the same story as Chinese immortals, and an Spirit Emperor? NOWHERE! This book is a love letter to the genre that everyone should have the chance to read.
I can’t speak highly enough about this book. I absolutely loved it. The art is great, and even the panels evoke scenes from a movie. Every punch, kick, parry, and dodge is shown with detail. I’ve read it twice since I got it. All 400+ pages of it and I still want more. I’m hoping that we can get a prequel about the origins of the 8 Immortals that are the mentors in the book. And the whole time I’m reading all I could think of is how cool this would be as either an anime or a live action film — or both!!! Not since “Afro Samurai” have I seen such a creative mash-up of ideas and genres that worked so well and had me so fully entertained. And like that property that started out as a little known comic, I think this could be something big. It’s that good.
So if you grew up watching things like “The Five Deadly Venoms” or “36 Chambers of Shaolin” or any of the modern Kung Fu flicks out today, this book is for you. Check it out!!!