Titan Comics: KUNG FU PANDA #4 Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Titan Comics: KUNG FU PANDA #4 Review

Tony Fyler has some sound financial advice for you.

Don’t buy this comic-book.

Well, I mean, clearly you can, if you really want to, and your shelf will never look quite right with a conspicuous Kung Fu Panda issue #4 gap on it. And please don’t get me wrong – I’m not advising, as I did for issues #1 and #2, that you skip it altogether. Absolutely not – and if you ignore me, what you’ll get in one of the two strongest stories to appear in the range since Titan started delivering Kung Fu Panda in the run-up to the new movie, Kung Fu Panda 3. The story from Simon Furman has an underlying relevance to young readers, who may well recognise its analogue to the playground, with its whispers of unrestrained cruelty, the shifting alliances based on lies, the testing of group loyalties by traitors in the midst and the ultimate reality that the way to defeat whispering sowers of dissent is to talk to the people they most especially don’t want you to talk to, so the discordant reality they build dissolves like a soufflé’s optimism, allowing you to emerge victorious. What’s more, the artwork by Lucas Ferreyra is particularly suited to the story, as he brings a particular gift with light and a kind of watercolour palette to play which is perfect for telling a story of illusions and uncertainties.

All of these, should you need them in addition to your own sense of fannish completism, are reasons why you should buy this comic-book.

Nevertheless, don’t buy this comic-book.

Spend a little more money and buy Kung Fu Panda Volume 1 instead.

Why? Well, we review Volume 1 in detail here, but essentially, Volume 1 is a thing that grows greater than the sum of its parts by virtue of what they are, and having them side by side. While issue #4 is a delight by itself, its underlying message is a manual for dealing with a particular kind of bully – the passive aggressive, lie-spreading, ‘nobody likes you’ kind that in this day and age has actually led quite a number of young teens to attempt or commit suicide.

But Volume 1, while it contains that story, also contains the single-shot from issue #3, Daze of Thunder, which was a similar manual to help deal with a different kind of bully – the more aggressive ‘Gimme your lunch money or I’ll pummel you’ kind that could be described as active aggressives. And by combining the two in a single volume, there’s the potential to cover both kinds of Big Bad in one shot for any junior pandas who might need to follow the Path of the Dragon Warrior and defeat bullies in their own world, whereas doing it issue by issue, certainly you can be more case-specific, but you get less of a sense of coherence, less of a lesson than you get with the collected Volume 1.

So certainly, if you want to, buy this comic-book. But overall, Volume 1 is better than the sum even of its two very good parts.

The Kung Fu Panda comic-book takes a sabbatical after this, returning in the summer. After a slow and uninspiring first two issues, the last two have been solid gold panda goodness. So get them together as Volume 1 or individually if you prefer. But get them.

Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk

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