Continuing our look at the Joseon Zombie Annals webcomic by Gonma (조선좀비실록- 곤마), we pick it up in chapter 10.
Our heroes have been arrested and taken to jail where Heo Jun uses some of the medicine he has in a vial to control the infection raging in Soonshin’s body. Heo Jun requires some of Jin’s blood to make the antidote, however, and she pricks her thumb to give him some to mix with the liquid in the vial. This somehow goes back to what the Buddhist woman at the palace said about Jin, and it’s the reason they are taking their dangerous journey with the Crown Prince as her warrior escort. Heo Jun mixes their blood to test their compatibility, then injects the mixture into Soonshin. Soonshin wakens, then the scene shifts back to the kyojunim who had them arrested.
An old man begs him for help, wanting more food, but when the kyojunim embraces the old man, the old man turns into a zombie! After a few panels, the scene shifts back to Yoonshin in jail. When he sees Jin’s wounded and bandaged thumb, he is angry to be the cause of her wound. He blushes at the thought. When the kyojunim arrives at the jail where our heroes are being held, he sees the beautiful girl through the bars but addresses Heo Jun and says he knows Heo Jun has a method for killing the zombies. Threatening Heo Jun with death, tiny asps slither out of the kyojunim’s tunic toward the floor and make their way up each of the prisoners’ bodies, finally coiling near their faces around their necks. He tells them not to move and says the girl won’t die tonight.
In chapter 11 when the kyojunim orders the guard to open the cell door and lead Jin out for his pleasure, Soonshin bites the asp around his neck, killing it and freeing himself. He charges the guard, wanting to save Jin from being dishonored, and the guard slashes Soonshin across his torso. However, Soonshin moves oddly, confusing the guard, who is so shocked the blow didn’t kill Soonshin, he falls to his knees, wracking his brain trying to figure out what just happened.
The asps bite the rest of the prisoners, knocking them unconscious. Kyojunim knocks out Soonshin with a blow and takes Jin to a private location where he can taunt her. He strings her up stripped to her underwear and tries to seduce her in chapter 12, but she bites him on the lip as he moves to kiss her. His response is to punch her in the face.
The scene shifts back to Heo Jun and the Crown Prince in jail. They find Soonshin has blasted a hole through the jail to the outside and escape through it. The scene shifts back to Jin and kyojunim, who has a whip in his hand. She is a little bloodied, and at the end of the scene, she yells out for Soonshin. Soonshin, however, is caught up in some sort of dream full of skulls, but he knows that Jin is in danger. A scary, bloody man he calls Yoon appears, probably the Crown Prince though all of the characters look more modern here, and Soonshin angrily demands to know where Jin is. In a sideways panel, we see Jin standing before them in black with her hair down and a sword through her stomach. He wakes from the dream screaming her name.
The guard appears before him, and Soonshin asks where Jin has been taken. The scene carries over to the next chapter, where the guard gives Soonshin back his pair of butcher knives, and they fight, his knives against the guard’s sword. After defeating the guard, Soonshin flees.
The scene shifts back to the kyojunim preparing to whip Jin, but he is interrupted by the arrival of the Crown Prince, who has drawn his sword. The Crown Prince cuts Jin down as he chats with kyojunim, who wants to know where Heo Jun is. Jin anxiously asks about Soonshin, but the Crown Prince tells her not to worry about him just now. Kyojunim fights with the Crown Prince, his whip and fists against the Crown Prince’s sword. Like the previous scenes with Soonshin and the guard, this section has some stunning fight panels. Weirdly, this time when the Crown Prince stabs kyojunim in the gut with his sword, there’s a black box over the wound. The final panel shows kyojunim finally opening his right eye, which is blue, in contrast to the eye he normally has open, which is brown!
The epic battle continues in the first half of chapter 14, while the second half shows Soonshin running into a crowd of zombies he must fight and flee from. In chapter 15, Soonshin finally sees the tower where Jin is being held, but we quickly switch back to the fight between the Crown Prince and kyojunim. Around this time, an asp bites Jin’s foot, and she falls unconscious.
Heo Jun meanwhile is wandering around the village and talks with an official, pulling a few vials out of his tunic. When Soonshin rushes by, they are reunited, and a little further down in the chapter, Soonshin joins the battle against kyojunim. He is able to really do some damage, but we have already seen that kyojunim has some strange form of regeneration that reattaches severed limbs back onto his body using a red energy force. Then he takes on zombie powers, but that creepy appearance lasts only for a few panels before the fight resumes as normal in chapter 16. Kyojunim appears to have the same infection-immunity that we saw Soonshin diagnosed with last post, which made his eyes turn blue temporarily.
In chapter 16, he fights with Soonshin, and Soonshin’s eyes turn blue again, too, surprising kyojunim with his own zombie abilities. About halfway through, the scene shifts back to the wounded guard Soonshin fought in the forest, who awakens in his wounded state. He recognizes Soonshin’s fighting ability matches kyojunim’s and thinks that if kyojunim dies, he will be free. He is suddenly stabbed in the middle of his reverie by the Japanese samurai we met earlier in the story.
The samurai is joined by his girlfriend and a bandaged man who beheads the guard. The scene then shifts back to Soonshin and kyojunim. They fight, then when the Crown Prince rebukes Soonshin for beating kyojunim, the two opponents discuss their respective zombie abilities. They fight some more when kyojunim decides that Soonshin no longer has the zombie berserker ability because his eyes turned back to brown. But then Soonshin pulls out one of Heo Jun’s vials and throws the garlic liquid at him. This time, his butcher knife severs kyojunim’s arm, and it doesn’t reattach!
This continues through chapter 17. Kyojunim jumps out the window of the tower to escape Soonshin. Soonshin jumps out after him, and he lands in the middle of a crowd standing with kyojunim before a zombie tied up to a frame by a noose. Kyojunim’s men notice he lost an arm, and kyojunim directs them to surround Soonshin, which they do with their swords drawn. He gives the order for them to kill Soonshin, but Soonshin grabs their weapons and starts fighting them. Heo Jun interrupts the fight, destroys the bound zombie who disappears when his sword touches him. Meanwhile, kyojunim has made a run for it through the town, but Soonshin catches up with him. He scalps kyojunim, but the samurai arrives, hitting kyojunim with his sword, which makes him disintegrate!
In Chapter 18, the two men fight. About halfway through this chapter, we return briefly to Jin and the Crown Prince. Jin wakes from a dream where she saw Soonshin beheaded and is very anxious. The story shifts back immediately to Soonshin and the samurai. Soonshin’s eyes suddenly turn blue, which makes the samurai wary. Suddenly the samurai’s girlfriend and the bandaged man arrive, and the three of them disappear, leaving Soonshin to think back to certain moments of the night’s many battles.
Before the end of the chapter, Heo Jun arrives with Jin and the Crown Prince, so the heroes are reunited in chapter 19 and find a safe place to discuss how the zombie plague is being transmitted. It seems the kyojunim became a religious figure because of these minor zombie manifestations after he was scratched by one, and he was considered a messenger of heaven as a result.
We’ll pick it up with chapter 20 next time.
Part two of a six part series.