iD_eNTITY Update

By | Friday, March 23, 2007 Leave a Comment
As I've noted on a couple previous occassions, I've been reading through the manhwa series iD_eNTITY. I finished volume 5 on my lunch hour today, and thought I'd provide an update.

As I also noted here, I've been spending some of my time in Second Life, so iD_eNTITY takes on a more personal connection for me early on. As the lead character Roto and his friends continue on their adventures in a virtual world, I'm seeing myself interacting with friends more online. Last night, in fact, I swang by the virtual home of a friend who lives over 600 miles away. We talked and joked for 20-30 minutes before she left to do some work. But before she did, I dropped off a Coca-Cola vending machine with an unlimited supply of soda. I couldn't do that in reality.

But that's only a small portion of why I've been enjoying the series. In volume 3, the adventurers signed up for a tournament to win a huge in-game prize. The first elimination round was glossed over almost surprisingly well to get right to the final bouts. Volumes 4 and 5 cover the first rounds of those bouts, and we're nowhere near a final victor. While this could have been a relatively straightforward slugfest, each round has proven incredibly well-developed. During the battle, other players watch and comment on the action to both humorous and narrative effect. The players fighting each other spend a fair portion of their time in the battle arena strategizing, so readers can see the characters winning by guile and cunning more than anything else. And because each player is using strategy, they pull out quite interesting and surprising methods of attack. A warrior who pounds seemingly relentlessly on an opponent turns out to be attacking the warrior's weapon to the point of uselessness. Wizards use bizarre combinations of spells that surprise everyone because they're used in a manner clearly not originally intended.

And that's one the elements that really tells me Hee-Joon Son and Youn-Kyung Kim are excellent in crafting the story. The game the characters are playing is entirely fictional. So with the few exceptions seen in earlier the story, any spell's effect should come as a surprise. But they masterfully elicit a reaction from me, as a reader, that can approximate what the other characters in the game are feeling. "What? He bounced a fireball spell off his own force field, so that it'd fly 'under the radar' of his opponent's force field? How the...?" And while once or twice would be impressive, they do that repeatedly throughout these battles.

Further, there's plenty loads of character development. To the extent that even characters that weren't introduced until the final battle rounds still come across as fully developed characters. And there's enough characters to go around so that I really have no idea whatsoever who will win. Given the underlying plot of Yureka's origins, it's hard to tell if the main protagonist Roto will win the ultimate prize.

And that's what good storytelling is really all about. As a reader, I want to be surprised where a story takes me. I don't want to know by the middle of act two where things will end up at the end of act three, as is all-too-common in writing. These guys are doing that ably, WITHOUT resorting to out-of-the-blue left turnsand dues ex machina plot contrivances. Everything fits neatly within the parameters established in the series itself, and the outcomes -- while unexpected -- make sense.

You know what reading iD_eNTITY feels like? It feels like when I first discovered Fantastic Four back when John Byrne was on the book. I was learning about these characters for the first time, and as I was getting to know them, they were off doing wildly unexpected things that flowed naturally from what had gone on before. THIS is how I became a fan of comics in the first place, and it's incredibly invigorating to know that I can experience this again.
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