Kabuki is a comic book written and for the most part illustrated by David Mack. It features some unorthodox storytelling techniques including abstract pictures, photographs, photo-shopped photographs, crayons, sculptures, paintings, collages of textiles and flowers and an eclectic mix of pictures and words that redefine the comics medium. Mack uses different artists and art styles to describe any given scene; in short, the book is something to see.The story itself is simple enough: A deconstruction of the whole near-future-corporate-assassin-trained-from-birth-emotionless-ice-maiden-going-around-killing-people-on-the-say-so-of-a-faceless-man trope. Kabuki is one of eight women agents of an entity called Noh who sit in a room with colorful costumes and masks on talking to a couple of guys with masks on all day and then kill who they're told to kill in colorful ways all night, but then something happens. A relative of Kabuki returns to town, setting in motion events which force our hero to examine her past, and over the course of seven or so volumes we get closer and closer to Kabuki, forced inside her skin and getting to know her better than we might like. Mack's telling a deeply personal story, and even when we don't understand what it's about it's almost impossible not to care.
Tropes featured include:
- Action Girl: All eight Noh agents
- Cool Mask: All eight Noh agents wear painted porcelain masks when "in character".
- Creepy Twins: The twin assassins collectively named Siamese are former Siamese twins who were joined at the shoulder, and given cybernetic arms when surgically separated. They're portrayed in a fairly creepy fashion; although they do get a sympathetic scene at one point in the series, it's somewhat negated by the fact that the left-handed one is busy sewing all her stuffed animals' mouths shut at the time.
- Whip Sword: Used by Snapdragon.
- Glass Eye: Switching a guards glass eye with a smaller one plays into their escape from prison
- MacGyvering: Kabuki can kill you with a cigarette, given a few minutes in a bathroom with a cigarette and whatever you have laying around she can make poison potent enough to kill you with one drop.
- Dual Wielding: Kabuki's scythes.
- Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: The Blade Runner visual influences are overt in the cityscapes of volume 1.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Kabuki writes children's books after she retires from a life of violence
- Private Eye Monologue : "I feel the burning of thier gaze and it keeps me warm. I hold onto it and proceed. I find myself thinking of my sensie again...and of a little girl training her body to perform beyond built in psychological taboos. I think of this as I bite off my finger."
- Reality Ensues: poor scarab...
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner : "A voice in my head tells me the bullet had my name on it...I tell the voice they misspelled my name"
- Warrior Poet - Pretty much everyone who has a speaking line
- Yakuza: quite a few