The story of provenance “THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY ENEMY” documents the origin of an incredible story that has been meticulously passed down through time: HUNTER NINJA BEAR.
Three warriors, supreme forces of nature, ultimately become the last of their kind by journeying down a dark path of anguishing torment and blood-thirsty revenge. They become forever bonded in “Hunter Ninja Bear: Provenance Volume 1”.
The Rules are Simple:
HUNTER BEATS BEAR. NINJA BEATS HUNTER. BEAR BEATS NINJA.
Seeking to avenge the slaying of his village by a savage horde of monstrous bears, a lone ninja comes to realize that his vengeance cannot be wielded by his sword, but only at the end of a legendary hunter’s rifle. Some partnerships are forged in steel and can overcome all, but unfortunately, most are not. Blindness comes in many forms, and so do its repercussions.
Hunter Ninja Bear: Provenance Volume 1 tells a story of unending vengeance where three legendary warriors, a ninja, a hunter, and a bear, become the last of their kind by surviving an unforgiving circle of death.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Writer Chuck Dixon leads the charge in Hunter Ninja Bear. He is best known for his work on the Marvel Comics character the Punisher and on the DC Comics characters Batman, Nightwing, and Robin in the 1990s and early 2000s. His captivating storytelling leads the reader through the long and winding origin stories of the three main characters. Stunning pencils by the amazing Mel Rubi are beautifully complimented by the iconic stylings of inker Rob Hunter, all of which are wrapped together by the eye-popping colors of Ivan Nunes.
The lettering was done by Taylor Esposito. Partnering up with Hollywood legend Jay Johnson, the Hunter Ninja Bear title design was meticulously worked on through its various development stages. Jay’s prior work includes the movie title designs for Quentin Tarantino’s film catalog. The covert art was done by Mel Rubi, Rob Hunter, and Ivan Nunes. Hunter Fenoglio and Vuagh Coleman were the editors of this project. The story is presented as a compilation of 12 individual issues published by Fenom Comics.
Fenom Comics is a new independent entertainment company, founded by Tom and Joe Fenoglio, focused on presenting new thrilling stories and captivating characters that will hopefully span generations of fans.
Fenom Comics’ vision is to establish a solid core of comic titles and then eventually transition them into film. Pulling in some of the comic industry’s greats, they are dedicated to providing their fans with the greatest stories told by the most incredible writers and artists. For their first crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, they presented their first volume of the “Hunter Ninja Bear” series.
The first volume of Hunter Ninja Bear contains 12 issues, which are presented as 12 chapters and totals 360 beautifully finished pages full of action, mystery, and fantasy. The book has a great structure with proper chapter dividers, title pages (cover art) with line art at the back, a 2-page covering the artists’ bio, and a 3-page advertisement for Fenom Comics’ upcoming series. And the book also has a printed spine.
The softcover book is printed on FSC-certified acid-free paper and bound in an FSC-certified environmentally friendly colored paper material. Like the everyday game of ROCK PAPER SCISSORS, the rules of this saga are simple: Bear BEATS Ninja, Ninja BEATS Hunter, and Hunter BEATS Bear.
THE MAIN CHARACTERS
Hunter Ninja Bear has interesting characters that will make you love or hate them.
TAJIRO SATORU (NINJA)
As the last of the ninjas, Satoru has struggled to keep his honorable traditions and teachings alive in his small farming village whose main goal is to catch up with the philosophies of modern-day Japan. His ancient ways shine once more as Satoru is forced to avenge the savage massacre of his entire community. No match for the beasts that he must slay, he looks to the western world for help.
Hana is an orphan whose past is tied to Satoru more than she knows. With no family to call her own, Hana begs Satoru to teach her the ways of the ninja. As she travels to the ends of the earth with her newfound sensei, Hana looks to become the great warrior that she always dreamt to be.
JOHN WILKERS (HUNTER)
John Wilkers is one of the greatest frontiersmen in American history, unintentionally becoming a larger-than-life legend in Japanese folklore. Driven by an unbridled desire to cut down an elusive supernatural rival, his persistence becomes his eventual undoing. For the first time in his many acclaimed pursuits, the hunter becomes the hunted.
Little Heart is a great native warrior whose name does her no justice. Her pure heart is only overshadowed by her innate ability to become one with the forces of nature. Her journey becomes a beautiful spiritual awakening that will alter the course of life and death for those closest to her, for better or worse.
Moon White is the one that narrates the story of the legendary Fire Cloud. I’m not sure if he is from Little Heart’s tribe but he seems to have a lot of wisdom being a warrior himself.
FIRE CLOUD (BEAR)
The first discussion of a sighting of this strange beast in the foothills of Mount Fuji may have been in 1841 when a small Japanese group of surveyors officially sanctioned a small parcel of land to be for and only for an unknown breed of an indigenous bear. This account was not published until 1857, however, when several western newspapers began to print items about a demon bear ravaging the Japanese countryside.
To only regard the creature known as Fire Cloud as a phenomenon or fictional creature without biological basis would be to ignore the story within. Fire Cloud’s ascension into a mystical creature of demonic eminence starts with mankind’s complete disrespect for the balance of nature. Death and destruction are sometimes the only forms of negotiation that can break through the darkness of indifference and ignorance.
We learn that the descendants of a feared ninja clan are now living as farmers trying to avoid extinction. There is only one man living among them that still practices the secret ways of the ninja.
The circle of Hunter Ninja Bear is set into motion by the callous destruction of a sacred burial ground hidden for centuries deep in the Japanese countryside. The last of the ninja, Satoru, finds his efforts to be futile in stopping the brutal massacre of his entire village by a horde of supernatural bears, who have descended upon the humans in retaliation for the sins against their ancestors’ remains.
Fully aware of his inability to avenge his village against the mighty beasts, Satoru looks to his gods of war for spiritual guidance in this quest. Their answer is clear. Vengeance cannot be wielded by the blade of his sword, but only at the end of a rifle barrel belonging to the legendary American frontiersman, John Wilkers.
Before setting on the long and arduous journey to the western world, Satoru is confronted by a young lady, Hana, from a nearby village. Knowing only of Satoru’s famed ninja days, she begs him to be her sensei and to take her along on his quest. He reluctantly agrees, only because this orphan is no stranger to him. However, Hana does not know that she owes her life to Satoru who saved her life 18 years ago.
GOING TO AMERICA
Sailing into the San Francisco Bay on the last night of 1848, fireworks light up the sky. Luckily for the weary travelers, John Wilkers and his truest companion Little Heart are soon located and politely propositioned for the task at hand in exchange for gold.
GOING TO JAPAN
Wilkers sees Satoru’s job offer as a gift from God and becomes obsessed with the idea of finally having his long-overdue audience with the great bear immortalized in the glorious native legend, Fire Cloud. Along with their ragtag gang of ten very accomplished hunters and trackers, Wilkers and Little Heart embark on the ambitious expedition to a land completely unknown to them all. A trail of blood leads the lone ninja and the famed mountain man to the mother of all living terrors, the demon bear Fire Cloud. Will they survive?
This is an amazing book. The story is engaging and well-structured. The art is stunning. Everything is printed in detail. It is a story of legends and of karma. It was interesting to see a good side and an evil side of the Ninja, the Bear, and the Hunter.
At first, you are sympathetic to the last descendants of the ninja clan but when you truly understand the depth of evil that they spread on their path, you understand why they are destined to live full of hardships. They carry their Karma with them. Fire Cloud is a terrifying force, but you see his sentimental side when he finds his clan killed. How much did he work to build that family something that is not a natural trait for his species?
The hunter does anything for money, but he has a little heart that he cares for and who influences him with the knowledge and morals of her people. The characters are complex and very much like real people. In my opinion, the story doesn’t have a traditional hero or villain. The characters are flawed and make mistakes that they later must pay for.
THE CURRENT DAYS
It is very reminiscent of the world we live in today, where a hateful action of a few affects their whole country, race, other races, or religion. And the consequences of those actions that future generations will have to carry. Hate makes it a never-ending circle that can only be broken by forgiveness and love. The sad thing is that you can’t talk and discuss these topics in the open because reconciliation, respecting, and loving one another as brothers and sisters are not what is wanted by those in power.
The ill-treatment of the Palestinians by Israelis, the mistreatment of the Rohingyas by their own fellow brothers and sisters in Myanmar, the anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. after 9/11, the ill-treatment of religion in the West, and the mistreatment of Asians before and during the pandemic in the U.S by other minority groups, and one cannot ignore the current Ukraine war provoked by pro-war governments. One must read into the history of Ukraine and Russia, and the governments involved to understand how the conflict escalated so drastically and it is very hard to do it with all the propaganda surrounding it.
BEWARE OF KARMA
There are so many cases to mention that happen around the globe, but it has become very difficult to obtain real stories. And sometimes it is hard to avoid propaganda. Like Malcolm X once said, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” The North Americas have special expertise in doing that to their citizens.
The Hunter Ninja Bear offers a fair warning from the past conveyed by three simple rules: Hunter BEATS Bear. Ninja BEATS Hunter. Bear BEATS Ninja. The circle started with “Bear Beats Ninja” and it originated because of bad actions that had serious consequences. “You harvest what you cultivate” is the rule of life for some. In the end, for every evil action that you do to others, that evil action will come back to you or those very close to you. It may take a day, a decade, or a century but it always returns. Some call it divine justice others call it simply Karma. Not everyone believes in it. If they did we wouldn’t have so many conflicts. Within the circle of hate or revenge, there is no honor, it destroys any possibility of peace, unity, and progress because the enemy of your enemy is not your friend.
THE CROWDFUNDING PROJECT
This graphic novel was offered in two formats, depending on the tier you choose to pledge on the Hunter Ninja Bear Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign: a digital eBook or an unsigned premium paperback. It was a very simple setting. Thank god because the Kickstarter platform gets complicated the more tiers a campaign has. It’s not user-friendly in my opinion.
I got the paperback that comes along with a Hunter Ninja Bear logo sticker. The tracking number was timely provided, and the package arrived with no issues. It is impressive how fast the book was delivered after the crowdfunding campaign was closed.
Hunter Ninja Bear: Provenance Volume 1 is an engaging story with incredibly beautiful art. The art style is consistent throughout the whole series. The quality of the print and the details of the art and lettering are outstanding.
Same as with Miss Fury: Joy Division there are notes given in certain places providing additional information to better understand the story and translations are provided for the dialogues in Paiute and Japanese. The story is well structured among the 12 issues, each properly titled. Is chapter 12 really the end of this saga?
I hope the company grows to the point where it can publish individual issues at affordable prices to reach more readers, something similar to the DownCast series. Personally, I would like to see a hardcover option. It deserves one. The crowdfunding campaign is closed but the physical book is available to purchase on the Fenom Comics website.