Nunchuck City: Brian Asman
Reviewed By Ben Walker
Brian Asman’s Nunchuck City wastes no time in setting out its enjoyably silly stall, with a Cobra Kai-style advert promising to teach you how to be a martial arts badass, courtesy of black belt Skip Baxter. As with real life, we soon find that those claiming to be badass are sometimes more ass than bad. Unlike real life, there’s a bunch of ninjas on the loose in a city named after a games console, and it’s up to Nunchuck “Nick” Nikolopoulos to save the day, as well as his fondue shop, with help and hindrance from a colourful supporting cast.
This is the same kind of 80’s action movie parody-tribute that Adam Howe does so well, poking fun at tropes as well as applying them liberally & effectively. There’s some cheeky fourth-wall breaking and plugging of previous works, along with a healthy dose of comedy to go alongside the raucous, gory action. More meaty chunks get thrown around than an accident in a cat food factory, as various ninjas, ex-ninjas and hapless badass wannabes throw down across Turbo City. Asman’s comedy cross-hairs fall on everything in sight, from videogames to music, Euro-hunk tough guys to Australian bad dudes, with a sweary style that blurts out more expletives than George Carlin falling down a flight of stairs.
Our hero Nunchuck is slightly reminiscent of JoJo in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in that he’s a good-natured knucklehead, prone to outbursts of violence but always with good intentions. You can easily imagine him beaming like a dork or grinning awkwardly after most of his dialogue, and as such he’s an entertaining fellow to follow around. Side characters and the obligatory love interest are fleshed out well enough too, along with the main bad guy (despite their one-track mind when it comes to ass-kicking).
And as for that ass-kicking, a lot of attention seems to have been given to making the combat feel real as well as impressive, lending some admirable weight and tension to the comic book-style action. When characters land blows or have a chunk taken out of them, it feels impactful, and there’s usually some comedy to balance out the tension. It’s the same kind of masterful execution that has you pawing at your popcorn at the movies, making you sit up and pay attention each time a ninja bursts into the room or Nunchuck adopts a fighting stance.
This is the kind of book where you’ll know from the first chapter whether it’s your cup of tea or not, firmly sticking to its guns in terms of style and content, which means little in the way of surprises, but a lot in terms of entertainment. If you’re in the mood for over the top action and comedy to boot, you’ll be grinning all the way through to its suitably bombastic finale, and maybe you’ll even stick around for the bonus feature by Lucas Mangum…
You better nun-check yourself before you wreck yourself!
Disgraced ex-ninja Nunchuck “Nick” Nikolopoulis just wants to open a drive-thru fondue restaurant with his best friend Rondell. But when an old enemy kidnaps the mayor, and a former flame arrives in hot pursuit, Nick’s going to have to dust off his fighting skills and face his past. Plus an army of heavily-armed ninjas, a very well-dressed street gang, an Australian sumo wrestler with a gnarly skin condition, giant robots, municipal paperwork, and much, much more! From the rooftops to the sewers, Nick and his ex-girlfriend Kanna Kikuchi are in for the fight of their lives!
Also featuring the backup story “Curse of the Ninja” by Lucas Mangum!
Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on Twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.