Karma Po­lice

Chris Lewis, Tony Gre­gori (Il­lus­tra­tor), Jasen Smith (Con­trib­u­tor) Nic Shaw (Con­trib­u­tor), Vault Comics (JAN­UARY) Soft­cover $15.99 (120pp), 978-1-939424-26-6

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

Bud­dhism is the back­drop for meta­phys­i­cal ex­cite­ment in Karma Po­lice, a graphic novel that casts monks as thought­ful en­forcers. Their goal? To ease suf­fer­ing with­out vi­o­lence, if pos­si­ble—but if needed, to de­stroy evil spir­its that per­pet­u­ate neg­a­tive karma. Here, then, is the pre­lim­i­nary jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for cru­sad­ing monks, a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion that is both chal­lenged and re­fined as the story de­vel­ops.

The premise pro­vides a richly lay­ered story line; rein­car­na­tion ac­counts for the young pro­tag­o­nist’s ori­gin, while Bud­dhist con­cepts such as dakini spirit dancers are de­picted in new, contemporary ways (for ex­am­ple, at a strip club). Karma Po­lice de­liv­ers plenty of ac­tion on mul­ti­ple planes of ex­is­tence and poses in­trigu­ing moral ques­tions, in or out­side the bounds of Bud­dhism.

Those fa­mil­iar with Bud­dhism’s three-sided dag­ger, de­mons, and the wheel of dharma will be in­ter­ested to see how Lewis in­cor­po­rates them into the story, but Karma Po­lice is far from a slav­ish in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Bud­dhism. Among other non-bud­dhist el­e­ments, it in­cludes a masked vil­lain who cre­ates and ma­nip­u­lates luchadores. This, and other as­pects of the book’s free­wheel­ing hu­mor, pre­vent it from ever be­com­ing a dour med­i­ta­tion; above all else, Karma Po­lice en­ter­tains.

The book’s art is ex­cel­lent, with Jasen Smith’s col­ors es­pe­cially note­wor­thy, and the story, while com­plex, is well man­aged. Karma Po­lice was pub­lished else­where dig­i­tally be­fore find­ing a home at Vault Comics; crafted with care and thor­oughly en­gross­ing, it’s a qual­ity book that de­serves a wider au­di­ence.

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