The Ballad of Sang starts as a bloody, action-adventure revenge tale and morphs into the tragedy of a child forced to become a monster instead of a normal kid. This world is incredibly violent, filled with themed street gangs who want nothing but money to fuel their shady dealings. The story is well-done, with solid pacing leading up to a big reveal.
At first, Sang seems like a willing participant in the violence, intent on killing anyone who gets in his way. His skills are unmatched by the adult criminals who underestimate him. The reveal of his origin story is truly tragic and leads to a deeper understanding of the pain Sang is trying to work through. He never backs down from the war to be free from his oppressors. The villains are maniacal to an almost cartoonish point, which pairs well with the stylized violence portrayed during the fight scenes.
Most epic is the gang of roller-skating women who fight to save their community center. They are hardcore badasses and eventually become the only allies Sang has ever had in his corner.
The art is intensely violent, filled with panels of epic fight scenes that are expertly crafted. The plot requires a lot of movement and the artist captures that motion well. It’s a style that is perfectly matched to the story.
While this is an incredibly bloody tale, The Ballad of Sang is ultimately a journey to find freedom from oppression. It’s a story of pain expressed through violence as Sang fights the men who have stolen away his childhood.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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