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Download The Path: Crisis of Faith (The Path Traveler) eBook

by Ron Marz

Download The Path: Crisis of Faith (The Path Traveler) eBook
Ron Marz
Graphic Novels
Crossgeneration Comics Inc (June 1, 2003)
192 pages
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On a world racked by war, only one small island nation stands unconquered. The Warlord Todosi leads his troops to victory in a great and perhaps final battle, only to be betrayed by the gods. His brother, a monk, vows vengeance before assuming Todosis station as the new Warlord of Nayado. He must become a leader of armies, defending a land whose traditions he is coming to distrust. The Path is a new take on the samurai tale, a staple of Japanese entertainment with a growing audience here in the West. In addition to all the action and dynamic artwork that typifies the genre, we have the struggle of one man walking the thin line between honor and duty. Set on an exotic world akin to feudal Japan, The Path tells the story of a man stripped of his faith in not only the gods to whom he prays, but the emperor he is honor-bound to serve. Filled with samurai action and panorama, The Path tells the story of one man's journey and an entire nation's fate. When the monk Obo-san witnesses the death of his brother at the hands of the gods, he swears to have his vengeance by using the gods` own Weapon of Heaven against them. Meanwhile, the emperor teeters on the brink of madness and threatens to lead the nation to ruin. Torn between duty and destiny, Obo-san defies the Emperor and finds himself a wanted man, and not even the all-powerful weapon he possesses can save him. Aficionados of the masterful Lone Wolf and Cub series and the samurai epics of Akira Kurosawa will want to walk The Path.
  • Malalanim
Diversity, brother. In its time CrossGenesis rocked diversity in its line of comic book titles, the company's purpose to branch out to all sorts of genres while skirting superhero conventions. SOJOURN, for example, is high fantasy fare. SIGIL and NEGATION are sci-fi space operas. RUSE smacks of the Victorian-era mysteries. ROUTE 666 falls into the horror milieu. WAY OF THE RAT flaunts that wuxia flavor. EL CAZADOR, a pirate adventure. The closest to superheroes that CrossGen ever got was CRUX, which was also a take on the fall of Atlantis. Meanwhile, THE PATH, which shares its world of Han-Jinn with WAY OF THE RAT, is a moody samurai epic.

I recently became smitten with the fabulous THE WAY OF THE RAT, a buddy having loaned me several issues of that title. There was one comment in the WOTR letters column which suggested that not even some guy named Obo-san can beat Boon Sai Hong, the hero thief of THE WAY OF THE RAT. So I was instantly intrigued with this guy Obo-san and learned that he was the central character of THE PATH, a title of which first set of issues I then picked up in trade format. I'm very glad I did. THE PATH is very good.

Some plot SPOILERS now.

THE PATH Vol. 1: CRISIS OF FAITH collects the prequel story and the ongoing series's first six issues. The prequel (and, remember, SPOILERS) tells the story of the mighty Warlord Todosi of the House of Tsugawas who, upon the behest of the deranged Emperor of the island nation of Nayado, sets forth with his soldiers to conquer Shinacea, the distant empire across the sea. But the invaders from Nayado are met by the massive Shinacean army which then routs Todosi's forces and harries them in pursuit, all the way back to Todosi's homeland. With the tables turned and faced now with the imminent invasion of Nayado, the disgraced Todosi begins to pray. He prays for his nation's salvation, for some sort of last moment intervention, some divine gesture from above. And his prayer is answered.

For those not in the know (as I recently was), CrossGen Comics is also fondly known as the Sigilverse to its fans. CrossGen interweaved a common theme into various of its comic books, this being that of sigils being branded on characters in these comic books and endowing the bearers with extraordinary powers. Todosi becomes one such sigil-bearer, the sigil bestowed upon him by a mysterious woman who appeared in the wake of Todosi's prayers. Because of this sigil Todosi is able to repel the foreign hordes. But he is unable to survive the assault of godlike beings who sometime later manifest from the skies. And with Todosi's death, the sigil passes on to Oba-san... And who is Oba-san?

He once was called Nobuyuki, Todosi's brother, before he ventured into monkhood in search of enlightenment and coming to be simply known as Oba-san. Mere moments after Todosi's passing, the once reflective Oba-san vows vengeance on the fickle gods to whom he once prayed. He also pits himself in direct opposition to the Emperor of Nayado, who now covets the weapon from heaven which has come into Oba-san's possession. THE PATH goes on to chronicle Oba-san's dark journey and his quest for bloody get-back.


With CrossGen going out of business in 2004, THE PATH's run ended after two years, with apparently only 23 issues having been published. This is kinda sucksville to someone like me, who's just discovered this series. But this first trade CRISIS OF FAITH impressed me enough that I right away ordered Blood on Snow (The Path, Book 2) and The Path Volume 3: Death And Dishonor (Vol. 4: ENEMIES AND ALLIES doesn't seem to be currently available). Ron Marz's storytelling dips you into an exotic world of royal intrigue, foulest betrayal, shattered faith and friendships, shapeshifting demons, sorcerous skullduggery, and petty gods. Excuse further hyperbole, but, to me, this series really does pulsate with an ominous tone and seethes with the stench of war. Marz writes pretty interesting characters, and I'm very intrigued with the conflicted person of Obo-san, as well as with the fierce barbarian Wulf and the female samurai Yamane Aiko, Todosi's most trusted warriors who have now transferred their loyalty to Obo-san. I'm particularly waiting on even more details about Aiko's backstory.

And then there's the artwork. Of all the different comics I've seen Bart Sears' pencils, it's THE PATH which showcases his best stuff. Sears switches up, veering away from his patented overmuscly superhero renderings. Instead, he dabbles in stark compositions and in the use of black tones and shadows and unconventional panels, all this establishing a grand scale and a dramatic, brooding tone. To me, his work in THE PATH is reminiscent of Frank Miller and Alex Toth, two artists he references in the 7-page interview included in this trade. The only peeve I have with the art is that at times the action is hard to make out. But, man, if artwork can growl...

So I don't know where the story arc is ultimately heading. I do know that, by the end of the sixth issue, Obo-san's struggles have only begun. Both the Emperors of, respectively, Nayado and Shinacea, have deployed their best agents to pursue Obo-san and wrest from him the weapon of heaven (which is this supercharged blasting rod thingamajig). The final pages hint of a continuance in thunderous war between the two rival empires and I wondered what part Obo-san and his small group of allies and friends would play in this. I'm also curious to see more of Obo-san's new abilities, brought about by his sigil brand. I really liked that sequence in which he was able to temporarily make the insane Emperor of Nayado see himself for what he's become, but then what happens directly after is very creepy. The obese, power-hungry Emperor of Shinacea himself makes a daunting adversary, with his machinations and his control of shapeshifting demons. All in all, THE PATH Vol. 1: CRISIS OF FAITH sets things up nicely and does a very good job of whetting the reader's appetite. This trade paperback is very much recommended, with the caveat that this series only lasted 23 issues and the odds being that the story arc probably never got the chance to wrap up.
  • Rayli
Great graphic novel. The writing A+, original story line and grate art work. Sad that Cross Gen Comics couldn't finish converting all of this comic story into graphic novels.
  • Mardin
good book
  • Bil
A good collection of the series, too bad it was never completed.
  • Thordigda
There some solid and occasionally great art in this book, but the story being told never really gets going. The narrative is so highly derivative of any number of stories and films that it's hard to get very excited about it. The setting is a land modeled on feudal-era Japan, and there we meet the Emperor's warlord. He is a stereotypically stoic and heroic warrior who is instructed to lead the country's relatively small army across the water to invade the massive power (based on China) that has been their historic foe. The predictably disastrous results lead to a literal reshuffling of heads, as well as the appearance of the warlord's brother, a monk. (There are two sidekicks who make cursory appearances, a barbarian Norseman, and an elegant female swordswoman). In any event, there are some striking panels and spreads here and there, and some interesting paneling, as well as two nicely executed stylistic shifts. However, the palette is incredibly dark and drab--this book ought to come packaged with a halogen lamp! Browns, rusts, and grays dominate the book, and sometimes you really have to peer to make out what's going on. So, a few nice moments, but not a book or series I'll return to.
  • Flocton
As big a fan as I am of CrossGen comics in general, "The Path" is not really a book for me. I've never been the biggest fan of Bart Sears' artwork, and at times it becomes quite difficult to tell the characters apart. The pacing is a bit slow, which usually doesn't bother me, but doesn't suit this book as much as it wants to.
The big problem with this collection, though, is that "The Path" is done entirely in double-page spreads. Instead of reading each left-hand page then each right-hand page, like in most comics, the two pages combine. This is fine in a magazine style comic book, but when the pages are reproduced into a paperback edition like this, the middle of each image get trapped in the crease and makes it difficult to read.
It's not a bad book, and it deservedly has its fans. I'm just not one of them.