Review: Genma Visage

The Floating Worlds of Shuromij in the asteroid belt are home to the Shurokiu (humanoids with reptilian ancestry). On one of these worlds, in the Tower of Silence, Governor Scorpius is conducting psychic experiments...

This is BAD news. Thousands of years ago the order Nishin Genma used the same technology to cause mutations that created super warriors. These enhanced soldiers take on a dragon-like form resembling the reptilian creature called Hydra from which the Shurokiu race evolved. This fearsome aspect is the titular Genma Visage. 

Attempting to harness such power is not without consequences, however. It opens doorways to other dimensions, allowing the arrival of Youkai demons which have plagued the universe ever since the first experiments. 

The latest work by Scorpius to tap into this power threatens not only Shuromij but also the people of planet Earth... 

Genma Visage is the creation of UK writer and artist Thomas Tuke, a series he started in 2007 that now spans several volumes of work. Aimed at mature readers, this is a saga that blends heavy metal-style supernatural horror with science fiction, lots of gory violence and erotic imagery. It follows the adventures of Ryuken Kage, last of the original Genma Visage project, as he hunts down the various demonic mutations that have infiltrated the universe. On Earth, one of these has taken over the criminal underworld of the city of Los Rokuma, England, distributing a drug called Saucer that turns junkies into monsters. And this is not a recent revelation for Earth, some of the creatures still stalking the land were first created in ancient Egypt, adding a rich mythological dimension to the tale. 

The story is deeply complex and multi-layered, as is the artwork. Anyone familiar with a 15th-century painting called The Garden of Earthly Delights by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch will appreciate the style here: a surreal and ingenious variety of twisted, nightmarish forms. Tuke allows his imagination free reign here and no two monstrosities are alike. 

The pages are black and white, a combination of traditional monochrome comic style with a high degree of detail with desaturated inkwash panels for a more arty watercolour-like effect. The human characters are rendered comically, but without undermining the dramatic tone of the story. That is not to say there is no humour or sense of fun, however, the story has that also: Tuke has a lot of fun creating his finely textured fantastical universe, and that energy comes across vibrantly on the page.

As events unfold the cast of characters multiplies: criminal gangs (including a team of murderous prostitutes calling themselves the Fancy Birds), Maud the Shurokiu mercenary, Behemoth the hulking mutant goon, Hiero Phagus the pit-wrestling cave troll, the hypersexual chronomancer Relica Jezebel ("...she craves for nothing but demon sex")... 

The reader has to concentrate to keep track of all the ups and downs, twist and turns, but is rewarded for it. Three volumes of Genma Visage are available, over 300 pages of phantasmagoric visuals, psychotic violence and visceral terror.

Not for the squeamish!

Thomas Tuke: @genmavisage

Zak Webber

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