While I am an avid consumer of media, it’s rare that a story captures me so quickly and makes it so that I can think of almost nothing else from the moment I start exploring it. That’s precisely what happened with King’s Maker, though. The story is gripping, the art is gorgeous, and the characters have a vast amount of depth.
King’s Maker is a manhwa distributed by Lezhin, the same online publisher that brought us Blood Bank, Killing Stalking, and H&H Roman Company. The story centers around Wolfgang Goldenleonard, the missing 4th Prince of the kingdom who is forced to return to the palace five years after his mother’s death when the King’s guards begin slaughtering all young men named Wolfgang in the kingdom in an effort to flush him out of hiding. He gives himself up to save countless innocent lives, one of the first displays of his selflessness that we see in the series.
Wolfgang is a wild young man, not raised in the palace nor groomed to be king. It’s because of this that he catches the eye of Shin Soohyuk, one of the King’s ‘children’ (‘slaves,’ really), who is secretly planning a rebellion against the cruel monarch who currently sits atop the thrown. A Prince who seems to have his own share of resentment towards the monarch, alongside a solid foundation of morals set Wolfgang up as a perfect chess piece in Shin’s grand plan. Wolfgang is everything Shin has been looking for in a leader.
Ultimately King’s Maker is part of the BL genre, but it’s about so much more than the romance. We are introduced to an incredibly rich world with political conflict, familial struggles, and dramatic personal traumas. There are incredibly dark themes and there’s definitely a trigger warning for underage sexual assault. That’s not to say the relationship between Shin and Wolfgang isn’t important, though. It’s central to the story in every way. But their partnership goes far beyond a simple romance and establishes itself as a deep all encompassing partnership built on an incredible amount of trust with one another. The trust between them is probably one of the things that pulled me into the story so deeply from the start. Whereas most writers might rely on moments of misunderstanding for cheep drama, Haga never lets their relationship falter and keeps them true to their characters.
Outside of these main characters, we have an abundance of interesting side characters with their own unique backstories. Through the 37 current chapters of season one we are introduced to several very complex individuals who you grow to love throughout the series. There’s a second season of the comic in the work as well and I only hope that many of my favorites return in all their glory. I especially hope the Duke’s son Sys returns. He was a favorite of mine towards the end of the season even though I was wary of his seemingly one dimensional flamboyant nature at first. But that’s another thing about this series. Things that first appear one dimensional soon reveal themselves to be remarkably deep in just a few short chapters. I’m in awe of how much growth this story has in its first series run.
Another highlight of the series is the art. Each frame is in full color and is absolutely gorgeous. I was blown away by the artwork each time I scrolled through the panels. The artist, Kang Jiyoung, is a remarkable talent.
I blew through the first 37 chapters remarkably fast. I started last night and finished this morning on my commute. I’m already aching for a season two. It’s been less than 24 hours since I started reading King’s Maker and I can’t get it out of my head. That doesn’t bode well for how I’ll survive however long this hiatus might be. Is there a fandom for this manhwa? Fanworks? Fanfic? I simply do not know. But you can bet your butt I’m going to spend most of the weekend finding out.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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