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Phantom 1 by Lee Ki-hoon
Translated by Woo Sok Park;
Edited by Hope Donovan
Cover Artist: Seung-Yup Cho
Review by Dehanna Bailee
TokyoPop Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 1598167707
Date: 09 January, 2007 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

"You have great power … we wish to buy it."

After the "Meteo Rain" decimated earth, the event presaged the dark time, the time that welcomed an age of chaos. The time for which the Corporation reigned and greed controlled without mercy. But, this is not a time without hope. Hope that comes forth from those willing to fight...

As with any good read, it gets right to the action with police Mech-pilot K in pursuit of a high-speed mobile unit piloted by the alleged rebel Sara. When asked by a comrade what she thinks of K's ability, Sara seems almost bored with what she sees. He hears the insult and attacks her only to be nonchalantly knocked aside. K expected the response but it's the reaction deep within that surprises him--the growing inner sense that he already knows what she'll do next, and with this newfound ability, he almost gets the upper hand until her comrade saves her with a well-placed sniper shot.

Once back at the police station, after being given a hard time for letting Sara escape once again and tearing up his Mech, K goes off to eat with Yura, his friend. As they discuss the previous event, Yura asks why the sniper didn't take him out instead of just blowing off his Mech's arm.

The question lingers as K abruptly ends the meal and heads off only to run into his supervisor who again gets on him for wrecking yet another machine. As he defends his actions and complains about the shoddy equipment, the confrontation brings back the feeling he'd had earlier. The sense of knowing what will happen. Angered he may just be some kind of Newtype (Gundam) being, he races off to be alone and deal with his emotions.

Meanwhile, Sara has made it back to her base and, although tired, is told she has to run another scouting mission. K wakes to the news she's been spotted. As Sara enters the reconnaissance area, she is barraged by a round of missiles. Not expecting the attack, she realizes she was set up as she spots the MNC Cleaners (Corporate Mechs). They're again sighting her down as K appears on the scene and demands that the MNC's release her to his custody since he's the only one authorized to make the arrest.

As the MNC's turn on K, he falls to their attack so Sara tells him she'll buy time for him to flee the scene and warns him she's setting her Mech to self-destruct. Determined not to let her die on his behalf, he races to her Mech and pulls her injured form out. Jumping in the cockpit of her machine, he finds the controls similar to his older unit until he's pricked by the console (blood activates the system). Within moments, he's back on his feet and deep in battle with the Corporate Mechs, unaware that as he slays his rivals he's being watched from high above.

It's here that things begin to get interesting, for after the battle he wakes deep within the sheltered confines of the terrorists hideout only to learn that he's been announced publicly as dead due to a crash caused by a narcotic overdose. He denies the truth of what he sees, refuses to believe what he is told by the leader of the rebels, and escapes. Fleeing as expected to his only friend, Yura, K soon discovers that his fateful decision will reveal what it takes for one good cop to go against everything he believes and fight for the one thing he must somehow "make happen" in order to right a terrible wrong.

The first opening scenes were a bit confusing, the rapid action combined with the well-drawn but sometimes erratic art losing the reader at points but it does become easier to follow the further one reads.

The characters are what's to be expected in this type of formulaic work. The hotheaded naive pilot, the ignored love interest, the usual round up of traitors, liars, manipulators, etc. but they work well together so no objection on the characterization there.

Well-drawn, the artwork has some great moments but there are times it is messy, enough so that it makes it hard to distinguish what is happening--especially in some of the fight scenes. Other than the good amount of detail in the Mechs and at times K, I especially liked the way Eric was centered neatly on one page with the crossed pistols--nice "pop" factor.

Overall, the work itself is not a bad read. It has some great art and at times does try to be a unique product in a competitive genre. The story has depth and a strong potential for development. And it's something that I wouldn't have a problem letting the younger set read, even with the bit of gunplay, blood, and adult thematics it does contain.

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