Sang awakens in the apartment of a woman named Lucy, who has mended Sang’s wounds and patched him up. She wants to help him, but he is reluctant to trust anyone. To add to the problem, a metal-themed biker gang has been given a tip on Sang’s location from a peeping tom.
If Ballad of Sang #1 had tone issues, the second installment has given up pretenses and just collapsed into an ugly black hole of a comic — still with some tone issues.
I’ll admit, that’s harsh, but this comic is just so thoroughly unpleasant. The characters aren’t particularly likable. A lot of the setup feels increasingly trope-oriented. Yet, the comic still sets up these moments where you’re supposed to feel for characters and even the leader of the coked-out biker gang. Yet, all that goes out the window with just how ugly the world can be, the morbid gore-gags, and how much it revels in its own harsh violence.
To give an idea of the spectrum of tone and ugliness we are talking about here, the lead biker is effectively gutted by Sang. He survives and begins to moan about how his guts not staying inside. That’s a pretty unnervingly human moment. Then Lucy tugs at his actual intestines to interrogate him. There we have the dehumanization and the unlikable protagonists coming in. Then, the book ends with a dog chewing on his intestines as a joke. He yells at the dog to give them back.
The art gives little to hold on to. It’s highly stylized and wavers between manga-inspiration and low-fi cartoon aesthetic. However, some of the characters are just so hyper-stylized that they’re outright unappealing to even look at. Lucy especially falls into visual unpleasantness, and good luck trying to figure out how old this character is supposed to be. The color art is gritty and grimy to match the darker parts of the comic, but it could still do with some vibrancy.
The Ballad of Sang #2 validated my early criticisms of the series by doubling down on its problems. The tone is worse. The characters are more unpleasant. The trashiness is trashier. I can’t recommend this one.
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