Wuxia Wednesday: ZHAO

As I predicted with the launch of this website & blog: Wuxia Comics continue to flourish. It’s latest example is a fresh take on a legendary hero.

“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


Portrait of the general Zhao Yun from a Qing Dynasty edition of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Zhao Yun (趙雲 died 229), was a military general who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period of China. Originally a subordinate of the northern warlord Gongsun Zan, Zhao Yun later came to serve another warlord, Liu Bei, and had since accompanied him on most of his military exploits, from the Battle of Changban (208) to the Hanzhong Campaign (217–219). He continued serving in the state of Shu Han – founded by Liu Bei in 221 – in the Three Kingdoms period and participated in the first of the Northern Expeditions until his death in 229. While many facts about Zhao Yun’s life remain unclear due to limited information in historical sources, some aspects and activities in his life have been dramatised or exaggerated in folklore and fiction. In the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he was lauded as a member of the Five Tiger Generals under Liu Bei.

Many of Zhao Yun’s actual exploits were highly dramatised in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In the novel, Zhao Yun is portrayed as an almost perfect warrior – one who possesses powerful combat skills, unwavering loyalty to his lord, tremendous courage, keen intelligence, and serene charisma. These traits have often been reflected in nearly all modern materials about Zhao Yun to date.

The strongest image for Zhao Yun in various Three Kingdoms fiction is the idea of him wielding a spear, often said to be a long spear. Its name is roughly translated as “Shore Edge Spear” (涯角槍, Yajiaoqiang) in legends and it allegedly makes an unnamed appearance in the Sanguozhi Pinghua. The weapon’s revered namesake means that it “[has] none surpassing it, even in the heavenly sea of stars”. Measuring in at a length of nine chi (approximately three meters or ten feet in modern conversions), Zhao Yun is said to have wielded it with magnificent skill. If one is to believe the tales, Zhao Yun used the same spear to defeat Zhang Fei in a duel. At times, Zhao Yun is associated with one of Cao Cao’s twin swords from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In this tale, he killed Xiahou En while rescuing A Dou from peril.

Zhao Yun has been featured prominently in Chinese and Japanese popular culture, literature, art and anecdotes. Zhao Yun was already a relatively well-known hero from the Three Kingdoms period, as folktales about his exploits have been passed down through centuries. He became a household name due to the popularity of the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

We’ll continue this spotlight next week, when we look at this project’s connection to the 2023 MAKE MORE COMICS art grant.

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