Manhwa Review: Rooftop Sword Master

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 옥탑방 소드마스터

Score: 7/10

Rooftop Sword Master is a revenge story with a super powered twist.

Some spoilers ahead.

The story is about a teenage boy who is severely bullied into a coma. During his coma, horrible things happen to his family and he is traumatized upon learning of those things when he wakes up. As he is wallowing in his sadness, a massive sword appears before him and grants him superhuman powers. Now, the boy seeks to use the powers given to him to kill all those responsible for wronging him.

Like all good revenge stories, you start out with the wrong that the protagonist is subjected to. The point it to gain sympathy and motivate the audience into wanting to see the bad guys get their due. Rooftop Sword Master does a great job of doing that and portrays some good bad guys who mostly got away with their evil acts.

Then we get to the payback. Our protagonist gears up and goes on a Death Wish-like killing spree. Back in the eighties, there were a ton of American movies where our protagonist bought some machine guns and killed a bunch of bad guys. Here, our protagonist gets a magic sword. It buffs him up and pretty much makes him invincible. He goes around beating the crap out of police and military and anyone who gets in his way as he reaches his targets. It’s wild, it’s unrealistic, but it’s a lot of fun to see.

The art is very stylized and not bad. As I often say, it’s not Solo Leveling quality of art, but it’s still pretty good.

Overall, this is a satisfying revenge story, at least so far. The series is currently ongoing and is taking some interesting turns involving foreign governments and politics and a bunch of other stuff. I don’t really love these new plot points just yet. Personally, I just wanted to see evil people get beat up, but I guess that can only last so long. For the series to survive, they’re going to have to introduce some new things.

Manhwa Review: SSS-Class Suicide Hunter

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as SSS급 자살헌터.

Score: 6.9/10

SSS-Class Suicide Hunter starts off as a refreshing take on the overdone Korean-isekai-dungeon-raiding genre. Sadly, this only applies to the first one or two story arcs before settling in the same old redundant narrative pattern that all manhwa comics in this genre fall into.

Kind of like Tower of God, our protagonist lives in a tower, which is like this multidimensional construct with multiple floors. Each floor is like a separate world. There are lots of other people in this tower and their goal is all the same: they want to ascend the tower and obtain power, glory, or whatever it is at the top of the tower. Anyone who enters the tower is granted powers, except that our protagonist has not yet been granted one. One day while consumed with envy, our protagonist gets the power to steal an ability from another player, but it only activates when he’s killed by that player. He is later killed by that player and gains the power to reborn. So begins a story where the protagonist dies over and over again in order to gain more abilities, grow stronger and ascend the tower.

The strongest part of this comic is the concept. The idea of being killed in order to get stronger is interesting. Unfortunately, it just turns into slightly more creative take similar to the anime Re:Zero or the movie Groundhog’s Day. There was some real revenge film vibes at first, but then it just turns into doing tasks and climbing the tower… which I’ve read plenty of times in other web comics.

The art is good and that is a good selling point.

Overall, this is just another standard genre comic that starts off okay, but falls back into tropes later on. I’ll still keep up with it because the art is good and the hope that it’ll try something different than what the other comics in this genre are doing.

Manhwa Review: The Max Level Hero Has Returned!

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 만렙 영웅님 께서 귀환 하신다!

Score: 7/10

This comic is yet another fantasy story about an overpowered protagonist and follows many of the tropes of the isekai genre.

The story takes place in a fantasy world of magic, monster and kingdoms. The protagonist is a young prince when he is attacked and rendered comatose. While comatose, the kid somehow ends up in the afterlife of heroes. There he trains for a thousand years in all manner of combat and magic. He later returns to his body with the knowledge and experience he gained from that experience. Now, the prince will use all his strength from a thousand years of training to get revenge on those who tried to kill him.

Overall, this is another generic Korean isekai manhwa that is saved purely by how decent the art is. The art is still not as good as Solo Leveling, but it’s decent enough that I got some enjoyment from the story. Narratively, there is nothing new in this manhwa that hundreds of other manhwa have not already done.

Manhwa Review: Mercenary Enrollment

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 입학용병

Score: 7/10

Mercenary Enrollment is a web comic about a mercenary who starts going to school in South Korea. I’ve only read a few issues, but I’m getting a lot of John Wick vibes… just in a Korean high school setting.

Mercenary Enrollment is part of a newer offshoot of the isekai genre. You could argue that it is its own genre as established by anime like Full Metal Panic! Either way, stories in this genre generally follow a military veteran (usually high school aged) being transported to a civilian setting, usually high school. The protagonist, teenaged, military veteran then uses the skills they acquired in combat in the civilian setting. While Full Metal Panic! explored this dynamic through comedy, most of the Korean web comics use this for action and drama. Mercenary Enrollment goes the dramatic route and ends up coming off as a John Wick-esque revenge story… at least so far. As said above, I’ve only read a few issues.

The story is about a young Korean who lost his parents in a plane crash. The kid somehow ends up in a war torn part of the world and grows up to be a top, teenage mercenary (yes, I know how stupid that sounds). Somehow, the kids reunites with his family and decides to live a quiet life with his family. As he attends school for the first time, he learns that some kids are viciously bullying other students, especially his sister. Now, this teenage mercenary is prepared to use all his military skills to do whatever is necessary to protect his family.

I’ve only read through the first story arc and it’s a classic revenge plot. People keep threatening him and his sister so he goes around beating the crap out of all the jerks threatening her. Like any good revenge story, this comic does a great job portraying the bullies as bad guys. You really want to see these bad guys get their comeuppance as they commit extremely petty, vicious acts against the protagonist’s sister. And when he finally does get revenge, it is very satisfying to watch the bad guys get it.

The art is also very good.

Overall, I enjoy the story so far and I’m interest in seeing where it goes. The only issue I have is that I hope it doesn’t turn into a generic genre story. God of Blackfield is another story with a similar premise and I hope Mercenary Enrollment deviates from that kind of generic plot and tries to tell its own story.

Manhwa Review: The Undefeatable Swordsman

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 불패검선

Score: 7/10

The Undefeatable Swordsman is an enjoyable comic that fits the Wuxia genre.

The Wuxia genre is basically about martial arts heroes and villains in ancient China. These martial arts heroes usually have super powers and can fly around among other things. If you’ve seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that’s Wuxia.

This story takes place in ancient China. A young boy is born frail until a mystical old man shows up and gives him a magic painting. The boy becomes entranced with the painting for years and becomes stupid until an encounter with a martial arts master snaps him out of it. Now, the boy finds himself with immense martial prowess and seeks to improve his own martial arts.

This is a fun story. Recently, most of the comics I’ve been reading are either from the isekai genre, shounen, or superhero stuff. It gets bland. While I know wuxia is one of the most popular and overdone genres in the world, I don’t actually read that much wuxia stuff. So this story was refreshing to me.

The tone and goal of the story was different. There was good and there was evil, but the story was more about improving one’s skill more than defeating some big bad villain somewhere in the world. For those unfamiliar with wuxia, it’s like they took the training arc from a shounen story and turned it into an entire series. For those familiar with wuxia, this isn’t anything special. There are masters and a desire to grow stronger. There are legends in the world and there are wicked characters. The rhythm of the story and the pacing are different from other genres.

And it’s funny. There are a lot of funny moments.

The art is great and fits the tone. Lots of action as this is a martial arts story.

Overall, this is fun story where my main enjoyment of the series is to see how strong the main character can get and what each level of strength looks like. I also want to see more of this mythical ancient China. If you have any interest in action or kung fu stories, you’ll probably enjoy this.