Review copy on loan from Asiapac Books
Return of the Condor Heroes is a popular Chinese novel by Louis Cha which was adapted numerous times to TV shows, movies, comics and other formats.
In 1995, Asiapac Books published and released the comic book adaption by Singapore comic artist Wee Tian Beng that went on to become one of the most well known comic titles released in Singapore. Return of the Condor Heroes sold well not just in Singapore, but also in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
I bought the 18-volume comic book series too back then and could still remember waiting eagerly every few months for the release of the next volume. Sadly I had to sell it to make space but this is still one of my favourite comic books of all the wuxia comic books I've collected.
Return of the Condor Heroes is still a fantastic comic book by today's standard. And I don't think there's any other comic title by any local artist that is as good as Return of the Condor Heroes by Wee Tian Beng, adapted or not.
Fast forward to 2020, Asiapac Books decided to reprint the series as a collector's edition and had a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the reprint.
This collector's edition have repackaged the 18-volumes into 6 hardcover volumes and comes with a beautiful slipcase.
The book's available in either Chinese or English. Each edition is limited to just 500 copies, and each set will come with an exclusive bookplate that is uniquely serial-numbered and hand-autographed by the artist himself.
The price of each box set is SGD 288.
There's also a PDF of the English edition at SGD 140. For some reason, there's no Chinese edition PDF. The PDF edition is worth considering if you don't have space at home because the box set does take up some space.
The art on the book spine is single illustration split into six part.
Each book is over 450+ pages.
The binding seems good enough for a book this thick.
The first few pages of the comics are re-coloured.
I can't really remember if this reprint is of the same size as the original comic books. It seems like this reprint may have slightly smaller pages but it's still larger than typical Japanese or Taiwanese comic books.
The image quality of the reprint is as good as the original. Everything looks sharp and detailed.
I'm reviewing the English edition and text is translated well. Of course if you're a Chinese reader then it makes more sense to get the Chinese edition. The English names of the special moves and martial arts just don't sound as epic as their Chinese names.
The paper quality is the typical Japanese manga paper quality, perhaps slightly better.
In addition to the main story, there are additional content in the form of Q-comics which are funny cartoons about the characters, behind the scenes coverage on how the comic was made and letters from fans.
Return of the Condor Heroes is a fantastic story rich in plot and character development. There are lots of surprises, suspense and action scenes. There's a reason why novels by Louis Cha are so popular. I only got to know of Louis Cha's stories through comic book adaptations and not the original novels. It's just easier to read the comics and seeing the drawings just adds another level of enjoyment.
The story is actually a romance story at heart. It's about the forbidden love between protagonist Yang Guo and his teacher the Dragon Lady. It's like everyone's trying to break them up. The story spans decades with lots of ups and downs. At the end of the novel, the character development is so well developed that it feels like you've made a few new friends. The story is quite moving.
Being able to read the story and see these characters again is nostalgic. For readers who have not read this comic or the novels before, you're lucky to be able to experience the sensation of reading this for the first time. It's storytelling at its best.
This is a comic I can recommend easily. The Chinese edition is better in the sense that it retains the original flavour, so to speak. The English edition is good too. Actually the story is good in any language.
You can get the book at https://asiapacbooks.com/