Wuxia Wednesday: ZHAO part 2

Last week, we took a look the latest take on a legendary Wuxia hero. Click the button below if you’d like to read part 1.

read ZHAO part 1

“1279 The Battle of Yamen” – By decree of the formidable Kublai Khan, Mongol forces achieved a resounding victory over the ranks of the once-mighty Song Dynasty.

Four decades of conflict culminated in this one final naval battle that consigned the Song empire to the annals of history and established the Mongols’ total dominion over China, ushering in a new era: The Yuan Dynasty.

Caught in the tides of history, Zhao Ming, revered General of the Song, Spear-Master of the Zhao, and his wife Su Xi’er, together with their three sons, embody the dwindling embers of a once-glorious dynasty. Living concealed lives under false identities for years, their world is irrevocably altered by a single reckless moment, thrusting them back into the treacherous abyss.

Zhao Ming finds himself crushed between impossible choices wrought by fate, and torn apart by moral obligations to his family and brethren. His one decision will decide the fates of thousands, his every step reverberating across time.

Fate, Destiny, Duty, and honour intertwine in this epic saga of blood, blades, and tears…

Zhao Volume 1 – An epic 200-page graphic novel steeped in historical fiction, chronicling the legendary saga of the Spear-Master of the Zhao Clan

Major Characters:

Zhao Ming: Royal prince and cousin of the 15th emperor of the Song Dynasty. An expert in warfare who led the Song forces against the Mongol invasion till the fall of Song Dynasty in 1279. Age: 44 (Year 1279), 50 (Year 1285)

Su Xi’er: Wife of Ming and the loving mother of their three Children (Yan, Jing, Lin). The mediator and the glue of the family. Age: 40 (Year 1279), 46 (Year 1285)

Zhao Yan: Eldest among the three sons, fought in the Song’s forces last stance against the Mongol invasion in 1279. Due to his inexperience, he narrowly escaped death but suffered from PTSD since then. Age: 15 (Year 1279), 21 (Year 1285)

Zhao Jing: Middle son of the three, talented in martial arts with strong sense of justice, but is overconfident, temperamental and rash. Age: 12 (Year 1279), 18 (Year 1285)

Zhao Lin: Youngest among the three sons, happy-go-lucky but at times naive. Age: 10 (Year 1279), 16 (Year 1285)

A Brief Synopsis

After decades of attempted invasions from the Mongolians, the Song Dynasty fell to the Mongol empire led by Kublai Khan in 1279. In the Song forces’ last stance against the Mongolians at the Battle of Yamen, all of the royal family and officials committed suicide in face of the looming defeat. All but one.

Royal Prince Zhao Ming escaped into the woods with his family as they were pursued by the Mongolian soldiers. The family eventually fought off the pursuit, but not before Zhao Ming suffered a serious injury while protecting his son. With the fate of the Song Dynasty sealed, Zhao Ming accepted that the world no longer needed a Zhao (Family name of the royalties of Song Dynasty). Since then, the last family of Zhao lived in obscurity in a small village located at Southern China, Xiao Zhou Village, under different identities. Fast forward 6 years to 1285, China was now in the Yuan Dynasty, under the rule of Kublai Khan. Southern Han people (Native Chinese in Southern China) lived in misery and discrimination, as they were at the bottom of the caste system established.

The Zhao family now makes a humble living by delivering firewood within the village, made up of predominantly Southern Han. During a delivery trip, the three sons witnessed a Mongol Prince trampling upon an elderly. (They were unaware of his identity, but Mongolian are viewed as untouchables) Nobody stood up for the elderly as everyone were in fear of the Mongolians, except for Zhao Jing, who took things into his hands and saved the elderly. Seeing how the Mongolians were sent running with their tails between their legs, Jing rallied the crowd to stand together as one Southern Han people and stand firm against any Mongol in the future. Little did he know that such an act was equivalent to a rebellion, punishable by death.

Later that evening, the Zhao family found themselves being cornered within their house by an army of Mongolian soldiers, summoned by the Mongol Prince that Jing had beaten up, Prince Taraghai. The family stood tall against all the attacks thrown at them but were simply outnumbered. Just when things were about to go south, General Bayan arrived at the scene. He was Kublai Khan’s right-hand man and fought against Zhao Ming for decades prior to the fall of Song Dynasty. General Bayan recognised his rival and captured the family back to Khanbaliq (Capital of Yuan Dynasty, Today’s Beijing) for Kublai Khan’s disposal.

Kublai was a leader who loved a good talent. Threatened with the lives of Xiao Zhou Village, the Zhao Family reluctantly agreed to submit under Kublai Khan. This move put the Zhao family through lots of pain and challenges ahead, as they get entangled into the politics within the Mongol court while being misunderstood by their very own Southern Han people as they were regarded as traitors and cowards.

About the Artist

Kang Jing (KJ) is a Singapore comics creator and the founder of Chiral Comics. In 2019, KJ released his debut comic series, “The World My Arena”, through Kickstarter. The martial arts series has since been featured on local media (ustsaying.ASIA, CNA Lifestyle) and adapted into animated videos (ComicVid by VividThree Productions). It has also led to a spin-off webcomic series, “Save me from Chloe.” In addition, J has also seen his works published in comic anthologies internationally, including the Covid Chronicles by Graphic Mundi, which was selected by The Washington Post as one of the “Best Graphic Novels of 2021” In 2022, KJ was invited as an ambassador artist of Comic Embassy, co-organised by SG Cartoon Resource Hub and NAFA International.

Why Self-Publish?

I’ve been self-publishing for slightly over 3 years, since the release of my first single issue, The World My Arena #1, on Kickstarter in Oct 2019. I’ve always been a hands on person, who enjoyed being involved in every aspect of the creation of comic, from the story writing, to the art creation, as well as the marketing aspect of things. Self- publishing offers me the flexibility and control over the entire process and creative direction. I believe that nobody will be more enthusiastic and passionate about your project than yourself.

Also, I firmly believe that being a self-publisher in the indie comics scene, can definitely put up a strong fight against the more established publishers, in terms of both storytelling as well as product quality.

Kang Jing

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Watch for the ZHAO vol. 1 spotlight on THE COMICS FU SHOW next week!

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