Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 3 by David Mack

Title: Kabuki.
Volume: 3.
Writer(s): David W. Mack.
Artist(s): David W. Mack.
Colourist(s): David W. Mack.
PublisherDark Horse Books.

: Paperback – Omnibus.
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020 (First Published July 16th, 2016).
Pages: 400.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781506716084.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previously in the Kabuki Omnibus collection:
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 1 by David Mack.
Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 2 by David Mack.


Imagine being born from a tragedy. Imagine growing up numb to life’s beauty, becoming part of a manipulative governmental system with no prospect of ambition or happiness. Imagine going full circle to try and end your suffering. Imagine embracing a newfound friendship following your intimate connection with loneliness. Imagine being given a chance to be reborn into the person you wished you were. What do you do? Collecting the nine-issue story-arc of Kabuki: The Alchemy, originally published under the Icon Comics imprint over at Marvel in 2008, this latest omnibus also includes an introduction by writer Chuck Palahniuk, after-notes from creator David Mack, additional stories (Prometheus Untold, Lil Kabuki, Fourth Mind, and more), letters from fans that helped shape up the creation of this story-arc as each issue was being released, and behind-the-scenes content on the creative process by creator David Mack.

What is Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 3 about? Kabuki: The Alchemy follows Kabuki, an ex-assassin for a clandestine government known as “The Noh”, now having escaped from the grasps of an institution for “defective” agents known as the Control Corps. Now friends with a mysterious figure known as Akemi during those trying times, she is now offered a chance at embracing a new life, one that is free from the burden of her horrible past, if only she is able to look past the scars left upon her. As she learns to let go, she discovers a new mask in the form of stories, while also meeting two new faces within the Akemi network, prompting her forward towards her own transformation.

“There is no limit to what one can achieve, as long as one is willing to give someone else the credit.”
— David Mack

Despite being the final Kabuki story to be published, the story within this omnibus is chronologically set after the events that transpired in the previous omnibus reprint and continue to explore Kabuki’s identity and her transformation. Creator David Mack focuses heavily on themes of identity once again but looks to narratively deviate a bit more to channel some of his own love and passion for story-telling through metaphysical events. In fact, this story-arc is a reminder to stay true to yourself, to find your purpose through your internal motivations without the external influences of life through pressures formed in society, by people or media. It also serves as a eulogy to art, especially literature, by showcasing creator David Mack’s own creative journey and experience within Kabuki’s adventure. From stories within stories to an autobiographical self-insertion (author surrogate), the story ultimately feels like a stream of consciousness rather than a traditional narrative structure.

Of course, how can one even expect anything set within the confines of conventionality when it comes to creator David Mack. His Kabuki stories have always been his ultimate creative license, his own magical playground where he can unleash his inner creative beast as he experiments with styles of visual and narrative storytelling. Once again, this volume is another exclamation mark on his incredible artwork, displaying a mind-boggling and surreal artistic mosaic for readers to scrutinize and discover for themselves. Mastering watercolour while blending it with various other media, from photography to collage, his style is unforgivingly astonishing and exquisite, unquestionably sending readers on a trance that they never knew they needed as they share Kabuki’s evolution. Although saddening to know, the final omnibus, containing Masks of Noh (Volume 3) and Scarab, Lost in Translation (Volume 6), is planned for release on December 28th, 2021, but the wait will no doubt be rewarding.

Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 3 is an exquisite, monumental, experimental, and hypnagogic tale of rebirth through self-discovery and acceptance.

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



24 thoughts on “Kabuki Omnibus Vol. 3 by David Mack

  1. You have a beautiful way of describing the stories and artwork. As with his previous work I thoroughly enjoyed this volume, though it was very different than anything before. I’d never expected a volume of Kabuki completely free of voilence and bloodshed, and yet I think it worked, especially when viewed in the context of Mack’s life and accomplishments. I’ve started reading the final volume (the hardcover library edition was previously released), though it’s a reread for me of the two included stories. If I recall correctly these were more tantengial to the main storyline giving more background and context of other characters, and in at least one of them it included other artists with Mack writing the story and providing only some of the artwork. Over the years I’ve heard different rumors about movie or tv rights being floated around for these stories, and I’m honestly not very excited about the prospect. I’ve grown so attached to these, and the artwork and writing style just don’t seem to me something that could be conveyed in a moving pictures format. I’ll try to stay open minded about that, though… As always, I love your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point. It really stirred away from the roots of Kabuki to focus on who she wants to become while learning about those other women who are part of this odd Akemi network. It really felt like it was exploring the author’s point of view on what it means to create, to write, to share stories too. Seeing himself within the story made it even more obvious to me. I think it’s best to enter this universe knowing about David Mack’s life and how/when/why these stories were created. 😮

      I envy that you can just pick up your library editions to enjoy the remaining stories that I haven’t read! Just so I don’t ruin my own collection visually, I’ll probably wait it out, but it’s good to know those things about those stories though. Based on their blurbs, I had a feeling that I’d probably be less enthusiastic about them for the very reason that they aren’t really 100% Mack hahah

      I actually heard about the live-action adaptation when I picked up the first omnibus (I think it mentions it on the blurb or something). Having now read the first three volumes, I share your opinion. I don’t think it’ll be too much like the comics, to be honest. I think it’ll have to give us an original take on the story, something different, but with the same premise. It’s the only way it could possibly work. 😮

      Thanks for reading, Todd! I’m glad to share this reading journey with you, sir. 😀 Looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the final omnibus in the future! 😀


  2. “this story-arc is a reminder to stay true to yourself”…I liked that sentence a lot. Because it’s true, and often many people seem to just change themselves in order to fit in better, or for other people to like them. And that’s a real shame to be honest.
    You already convinced me with the review for the previous installment for this series, and this one only strengthens that conviction. You have really outdone yourself with this post. It was incredibly beautiful! I hope the last volume for this will be worth the wait!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I think it’s worse with social media platforms and how the Internet shaped everyone’s lives to the point where they only show exactly what others want them to be instead of who they truly are. So sad…

      I’m really glad to hear your continued interest in this series and I hope you’ll get the chance to pick these up in these omnibuses or beautiful hardcover library editions. You should totally flip through a copy of these just to see how amazing the artwork is. It’s nothing you’ll have ever seen before, my good friend! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like an impressive book! Your fabulous review convinced me of it and the amazing artwork is wowmazing! Ive always loved watercolor artpieces! This sounds like a strong series. Glad you enjoyed the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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