Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 by David Mack

Title: Kabuki.
Volume: 2.
Writer(s): David W. Mack.
Artist(s): David W. Mack.
Colourist(s): David W. Mack.
PublisherDark Horse Books.

: Paperback – Omnibus.
Release Date: March 4th, 2020.
Pages: 416.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781506716077.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.

Previously in the Kabuki Omnibus collection:
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 by David Mack.


The mind is a complex terrain. It is a curious amalgam of cognitive processes constantly expanding with time and maturity. It is through an interaction with the exterior, the physical, and the tangible world that we discover the latent effects on the interior, the intimate, and the immaterial world. There is no universal framework that breaks down the capacity of the mind, but there is an ephemeral yet immortal connection established in a surreal context between individuals who have experienced subtle forms of mania. Through a psychoanalytical and personal exploration of visual story-telling, creator David Mack offers us Kabuki as the vessel for our minds to converge and connect in a tale brimming of self-actualization. This second omnibus collects Kabuki (Vol. 4): Skin Deep and Kabuki (Vol. 5): Metamorphosis in one place and presents fans with the opportunity to read the story as originally-conceived by creator David Mack without having to split them between different publishers.

What is Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 about? Picking up where the story was left off in the previous omnibus, Kabuki, an assassin for a clandestine government known as “The Noh”, lingers between life and death with her mind tethered to reality only by a weakly beating heart and a link to her departed mother accessed through memories, dreams, and illusions. It is the sudden arrival of agents of an institution for “defective” agents, the Control Corps, that allows her to be saved before she could ever witness her final moments. Unfortunately, it comes with a price, one that promises a psychologically-devastating isolation that will send her down a path filled with introspection, self-discovery, and rebirth. Distressed and unable to distinguish reality from hallucination, her solace is only found in a mysterious woman, known as Akemi, who communicates with her through handwritten notes folded into origami animals.

“I will have to make a friend of horror and use it like the beauty of my mask for if horror is not your friend, it is your enemy. And I have enough enemies.” — David Mack

Leave it to creator David Mack to go beyond the standards established in comic books and deliver one of the most dazzling, exquisite, and immersive stories in Kabuki’s journey. Drawing upon Western psychoanalysis theorems and blending them to Japanese folklore and culture, he dives deep into the psyche of his character and explores her destruction of barriers between reality and illusion. Through a tale of attachment to a loss maternal figure, he focuses on Kabuki’s search for comfort and unconditional love as he introduces us to a brand-new enigmatic character whose identity flickers between a figment of Kabuki’s imagination, a spy desperate to gain and abuse her trust, and an assassin biding her time for information before the kill. It is their interconnection and the development of a bond that transcends their existence that ultimately makes for a stellar character study.

While the narrative bathes in the suspense surrounding the Noh agents attempt to find and assassinate Kabuki, it is her character’s psychological trauma and development that serves as the driving force of this odyssey. Exploring the internal conflicts that she battles due to her inter-familial history, the artwork is where creator David Mack exposes a mind-bending representation of psychedelic chaos, despair, and innocence. If there’s anything that needs to be said about his artwork it is the immersive quality of his distorted style. Pouring his soul into his work, he achieves masterful watercolour story-telling that mixes and mashes a mosaic of styles to achieve this singular masterpiece. You simply don’t need to dissect the meticulous details of his work but let yourself feel the emotions conveyed by his work as it grabs you by the collar and sends you on a trip into Kabuki’s intimacy.

Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 is an unorthodox, ambitious, ingenious, intimate, and unparalleled visual and literary experience imbued in themes of identity and isolation.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!



26 thoughts on “Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 by David Mack

    1. Yep. 😉 And I think Piotrek has read these too; not sure if he has copies for you to borrow though. 😉 It reminds me of my experience with Morrison’s Arkham Asylum. Every page is full of details, miniature lettering, sometimes (often) forcing you to rotate the book around as you immerse yourself in the story!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have never read this, nor do I know very much about it. But as you know I love anything that’s got something to do with Asian culture, so you have me enormously interested in this one. Combined with you skillfully written review (as always) this is one that is now very high on my list of things to look out for! Great post!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, sorry, but I hate the watercolor style of art. I’ve never stopped to analyze why I like or dislike any particular style of art, because honestly, that would take more work than I’m interested in putting in.

    Other than that, I’ll leave a Piotrek inspired “Good job, great review” sentence here 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So glad to see you enjoyed this one, as well. The two volumes bound in this one are my favorites, perhaps for sentimental reasons. I was first introduced to Kabuki by a comic store owner. Each week I’d visit the store and each week I’d look at all the books he had displayed on the wall behind the counter. He noticed my gaze kept falling on one set of books with those amazing covers. Apparently he was also a huge Kabuki fan, so he pulled down one of these two volumes and said it wasn’t the first book in the series but he’d recommend starting here. If I liked it then he said to go back and read them all. So that’s what I did (though I’ve not yet read the entire series that will make up the next volume). I just love Mack’s artwork, especially when he uses watercolor. And I found it fascinating how he spread the text sometimes all over the page, winding along one area then weaving over to another. It kept me moving the book around and looking for any hidden text I might have missed. Granted, I did find some of the text a little more difficult to read in this library edition than I did with the older trade paperbacks, but it’s possible that’s just my eyesight having gotten worse over the years. And I love the story, the heavy influence of Japanese culture that he obviously put time into understanding before writing, and the almost poetic quality of much of the prose. I plan to start volume 3 soon. Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep! I remember your origin story with this series from my previous review. It is indeed a curious but clearly beneficial decision to make you pick up the second library edition before the first. But he was right to do so, if you ask me, since even Kabuki’s and her mother’s stories are re-explored and better explored here. All you truly miss out on would be how Kabuki really got her scar and the whole sequence before she almost dies, leading up to the beginning of this edition. 😮

      Apparently, David Mack responded to me through social media that the third volume is even better as he grows both as an artist and story-teller! I can’t imagine where it goes and how it will be but I am excited to get my hands on the next volume and to find out like you how it goes!

      Looking forward to exchange notes on that one in the near future. Thanks for reading, Todd! 😀


  4. Your review definitely makes me want to check it out. There seems to be nothing wrong with the plot.
    When I saw the watercolors, I took a step back. Not my style. However, I think the difference in art along the story might have something to do with the actual story and the mood, which got me intrigued. Or am I reading too much into it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think you are because, unlike some other stories, this one feels like a journey where you have to take your time with how it’s told, to savour every page of his masterful watercolour work, to watch as the story but also the creator evolves in his craft. I definitely couldn’t showcase everything, but there are soooo many mind-blowing artistic moments too. You definitely have to be malleable in terms of mood to allow this story to work for you. The story won’t look to blow your mind, it’s mostly there as a foundation for the rest of Kabuki’s personal transformation. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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