Catching Up With David Mack's
By J.D. Lombardi

     Below you'll find character highlights that form a short synopsis of each arc of the Kabuki universe so far. David Mack has stated that you need not know what went on in Kabuki's world in order to pick up “Kabuki: The Alchemy”, but we here at SimplyJD Online think that knowing more just makes David's work that much more incredible. There are some spoilers below, so be warned, although major happenings won't be revealed in a direct manner (what fun would that be!?) Without further ado, SimplyJD Online's guide to the Kabuki-verse:

Title: Kabuki: Fear The Reaper
Issues: One-shot
Company/Year Released: Caliber Press, 1994
     The First appearance of Kabuki and fellow Noh agents Scarab, Ice, Tiger Lily, Snapdragon, Butoh and Siamese as well as The General and Dove. There is mentioning of Ryuichi Kai, The General's son, but he is seen only in disguise.
     Background is given on Kabuki's mother and the man who seems to be her father, The General. The one-shot centers on introducing the reader to the world of Pop-Culture icons Kabuki and the Noh as well as revealing what they do behind the public eye. Calm Kabuki dialogue guides us through her mass slaughter of Japan's Yakuza…”Little sister is watching you.”

Title: Kabuki:Circle of Blood
Issues: 1-6
Company/Year Released: Caliber Press, 1995
     Issue one is an “origin” for Kabuki, if ever it was able to fill a single issue. Kai is revealed to the reader by the issue's end. The second issue focuses on all the Noh agents as they effectively wipe out Japan's criminal underbelly. After the blood spilled in the previous issue, issue three features Kai building his criminal “dream team” in an effort to take over Japan. Through flashbacks, Kabuki's training is shown. The relationship between Kabuki and Dove is shown in issue four as Kabuki is forced to turn rogue in order to take out Kai. (Kabuki's real name, “Ukiko” is also revealed here for the first time) Issue five sets the stage for the final issue's climax as Kabuki enters Kai's headquarters and successfully fights all of his Jonin. The sixth and final issue has Kabuki's final battle with Kai and her deadly meeting with the Noh Directors. Deadly, not only because she kills all of them in a final gun battle to rid Japan of it's current corruption…but also because Kabuki takes a bullet to the stomach. On the final pages, Kabuki releases her mother's ashes at her grave and collapses from loss of blood.
     The single most important arc to the Kabuki series, Circle of Blood really puts the reader into the head of Kabuki on her quest to come to terms with her past, her culture and her mother's death. Equally important, this mini-series sets the stage for all that is to come in all other Kabuki series.

Title: Kabuki Color Special
Issues: One-shot
Company/Year Released: Caliber Press, 1996
     The first full color Kabuki book is an epilogue to “Circle of Blood”, focusing more on the relationship of Kabuki and her mother. This one-shot also included “pin-ups” by the likes of Billy Tucci, Joe Quesada, Mike Grell, Tony Harris, Caesar and Buzz.

Title: Dreams of the Dead
Issues: One-shot
Company/Year Released: Caliber Press, 1996
     Picking up from where the “Color Special” leaves off, “Dreams of the Dead” centers on Kabuki narrating the story from the afterlife. There, her mother instructs her to return to the living, free of all ties of the past to seek her own destiny. This issue also serves as a lead in of sorts, to “Masks of the Noh” number two.

Title: Kabuki: Masks of the Noh
Issues: 1-4
Company/Year Released: Caliber Press, 1996
     This is the series where more background is given on the other Noh agents! Issue one contains three “scenes”, each one focusing separately upon Scarab, Siamese and Snapdragon. Scarab is unmasked and information is shown about her personal life. Also, the Siamese chapter has the sisters on the trail of the rogue Kabuki.
     Issue two's three separate stories focus in on Ice, Tiger Lily and Kabuki. The Kabuki chapter picks up directly from “Dreams of the Dead”, even “borrowing” an image or two. Still in a daze from her injuries, Kabuki is being transported via helicopter to an unknown destination. Also on her trail, Tiger Lily comes up on resistance and must fight her way to the grave of Kabuki's mother. Once there, she collapses from exhaustion and looks toward the sky seeing the helicopter…apparently just missing Kabuki. Like last issue's Snapdragon chapter, this issue's feature on Ice ties up loose ends from Kai's regime.
     This third issue finds Tiger Lily being tended to by Scarab, while Butoh and Siamese contemplate their meeting with Kabuki. All the Noh members are brought together and given the official order to bring in/take down Kabuki. The fourth and final issue of the mini-series contains one story that focuses on the growing personal relationship between Scarab and Tiger Lily. The girls have revealed their faces to each other as well as sharing information on their personal lives…things which aren't allowed in the Noh Agency. There are also “pin-ups” in issue four by Rick Mays, Tim Bradstreet, Andrew Robinson, Brian Stelfreeze, Philip Xavier and Dan Brereton.

Title: Kabuki: Skin Deep
Issues: 1-3
Company/Year Released: Caliber Press, 1996
     Issue one tosses the reader right into the middle of a gun fight between Siamese and unknown attackers. At her feet and apparently dead is an un-costumed Kabuki. They plant a bomb at the dead body and look to make a retreat. What follows is a story from the immediate past that shows an again un-costumed Kabuki alive in the Control Corps building. The facility is for agents that have gone rogue or “lost their path” in some form. Control Corps is a place that Kabuki and other agents are to be “rehabilitated”. The second issue introduces Akemi, a major character in the rest of the Kabuki series, through letters written to Kabuki. The character however, is not seen save for a photo in issue one. The third and final issue of this mini-series introduces Kageko, who will become the new “Kabuki” in the Noh. In a “full circle” sort of way, the final page of the issue is the lead-in to the beginning of “Skin Deep's” first issue.      Most of this series is a flashback that stars Kabuki. It is book-ended by glimpses of the present time with all the Noh agents tracking her down to the Control Corps facility.

Title: Kabuki (known as “Kabuki: Metamorphosis”)
Issues: 1-9
Company/Year Released: Image Comics, 1997
     Issue one picks up where “Skin Deep” left off, with Kabuki in the Control Corps facility. There is a re-telling of her “origin” and by the issue's end, Akemi is shown. The re-telling of her “origin” continues for the majority of the second issue while she and Akemi continue their escape of Control Corps.
     The third issue introduces a lot of characters that were only shown for a page or two in “Skin Deep”. They are all inmates of Control Corps. One character, Shonen Blade reappears, having made her debut back in the “Masks of the Noh” mini-series. The issue ends with Siamese inside the facility and hot on Kabuki's trail. Popular conversation among Kabuki readers centers around the fourth issue, which features Akemi and some of her past. This is the famed issue that Akemi and Kabuki kiss! Just before Siamese catches up with Kabuki in issue five, Kabuki has a brawl with Control Corps guards amid flashbacks and paranoia that Akemi is severely wounded.
     Recaptured by Control Corps in issue six, Kabuki has no knowledge that all the Noh agents have infiltrated the facility. Akemi makes short work of Butoh only to go up against Siamese there after. Chaos is erupting and a Noh agent in a doctor's disguise comes to visit Kabuki. In the pages of issue eight, time catches up to issue one (in regard to the Siamese shootout) and Kabuki kills the disguised Noh agent, only to take the clothes for herself. Siamese's fight with Akemi is never mentioned.
     In the final issue to the longest Kabuki mini-series to date, Kabuki finally escape the Control Corps facility. Once outside the doors there is an immediate showdown with Kageko, the new Kabuki. Kageko agrees to let Ukiko stay dead in the eyes of the Noh. Akemi does not leave with Ukiko, but instead dons the discarded Noh outfit of the agent that Kabuki killed. (the one impersonating a doctor) The dead agent isn't revealed. The book ends with rain washing over Ukiko as she walks away from everything and everyone.

Title: Kabuki Agents: Scarab
Issues: 1-8
Company/Year Released:Image Comics, 1999
     This first mini-series to focus on someone that isn't Kabuki, opens with Scarab retelling her side of what went on at Control Corps with the retrieval of “Kabuki”. Also in the first issue is the continuing bond between her and Tiger Lily, who virtually share an apartment together. Her past begins to unfold as her former boyfriend Yukio is introduced along with her old friend Seiko. Issue two continues Scarab's past. The third issue, still giving Scarab's origin, reveals the death of Seiko and Scarab's first day as a Noh agent.
     Issues four and five remain in Scarab's past and reveal her and her boyfriend's clash with the Yakuza. The culmination of which is the apparent death of Yukio. Issue six deals completely with Scarab's induction into the Noh and her training.
     Issue seven flashes to various points in the Kabuki series, now at Scarab's point of view. There is a tender moment shared between Scarab and Tiger Lily on the mission to bring in Kabuki. It ends with her meeting up with Yukio, who is now a guard at control Corps. (the issue ties into Kabuki: Metamorphosis 7-9)
     The end of this mini-series also ties up a lot of questions from “Kabuki: Metamorphosis”. Issue eight has Yukio convincing Scarab to leave and run off with him, to which she agrees…only she must also get Tiger Lily, who is still trapped fighting inside Control Corps. The fateful scenes are revealed in which Scarab dresses up like a doctor to creep in on Kabuki. The book ends with Yukio sitting in the rain, alone on a motorcycle that was outside the facility and calling out for Scarab.

     Well there you have it folks! Above we gave you the required readings. But if you're a freak like us, you know that other issues like “The Ghost Play”, “FAN edition” and “Dance of Death” are all required readings! If you have the issues and find the time, go back and read them. If you get them in trade paperback or hardcover, try to read them as closely together as possible. It is an incredible story and keeping it fresh in your mind helps you appreciate the masterful story and characters that David Mack has given us.

Simly JD Online

KABUKI in order of reading

*Dance of Death (oneshot comic) = BW
*Circle of Blood (TPB collecting "fear the reaper" and "COB" #1-6) = BW
*Dreams (TPB collecting the first color and painted Kabuki-work called "Color special" and also the other oneshots "Dreams of the Dead", "1/2" and "Ghost Play") = painted (ps there are two different tpb's...the smaller one only collects the color special and "DotD")
*Masks of the Noh ( TPB collecting #1-4) = BW
*Skin Deep (3d printing TPB collects besides #1-3 of the mini also the amazing "Fan Ediition = all painted artwork
*Metamorphosis TPB with #1-9 of the mini published under Image) = painted
*Scarab "Kabuki Agents" TPB with the mini "Kabuki Agents: Scarab" #1-8) = BW
*The Alchemy...still ongoing and all painted work

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