The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation Vol 1 Comic Review

The first English comic edition of The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation boasts a brand new translation and entryway into the popular historical fantasy series. Also known as The Founder of Diabolism or Mo Dao Zu Shi, this New York Times bestselling Chinese danmei novel originally written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu now has a full-color comic published by Seven Seas

The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Comic / Manhua) Vol. 1 is now available in English in print and has been released on digital platforms! 

The comic opens with Wei Wuxian being reborn through a summoning ritual. He learns he must figure out how to repay the summoner by trying to get rid of the marks left on his arm, all while hiding his true identity. However, he runs into trouble when he gets involved with the cultivators around him. These energy cultivators deal with evils such as malevolent spirits and ghosts and often use immortal energy to conduct exorcisms of places and people. 

While the cultivators are terrified of the unknown, Wei Wuxian is exceptionally familiar with such evil. He poses a threat to society because he’s skilled in demonic cultivation and using evil spirits to his advantage—a forbidden technique. His power grew to such levels that the most powerful clans in the world united to take him down 13 years before the story begins. As Wei Wuxian attempts to regain his bearings in the world after being “dead” for years, he uncovers relics and spells that he created as the grandmaster of demonic cultivation and meets some familiar faces along the way. 

Isabelle and Crystal had a first look at the series and are happy to share their thoughts about the comic.

© Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and Luo Di Cheng Qiu
© Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and Luo Di Cheng Qiu / 2022 Seven Seas Entertainment, LLC

The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation may be labeled or tagged as a boys’ love story, but you won’t find any of that in the first half of the series because author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu focuses on the storytelling before establishing any romance. Readers are instead teased with the mysteries of what led to Wei Wuxian’s death and how he’s related to other characters, such as Lan Wangji, who is revered by all as one of the strongest cultivators. Little does Wei Wuxian know what Lan Wangji has done in the 13 years without him, and how much Lan Wangji suffered and missed him. In addition to the dramatic love story between these two soulmates, the series also deeply explores familial relations, honor, and the nature of life and death.

My exposure to The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation started with a drama on Netflix called The Untamed, which is an adaptation of the original novel written by MXTX. By the end of the drama, I was truly obsessed with the story, and I believe that the new comic will be another great way to introduce newcomers to the series through the art and visual storytelling. Personally, reading the first volume of the comic brought about nostalgia and a renewed interest in revisiting the series in a different format. 

Will the comic do as well as the novel, animation, audio drama, or live-action? I believe it can bring the story to life through the art, whether it is with the battle scenes or Wei Wuxian’s silly, chibi expressions. The full-color illustrations highlight the character designs and offer an excellent, faithful adaptation of the novel. I look forward to the rest of the volumes of this comic as more characters are introduced and the mysteries surrounding Wei Wuxian and his past are unveiled.

By: Isabelle

© Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and Luo Di Cheng Qiu / 2022 Seven Seas Entertainment, LLC

The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is a familiar title to me since I’ve heard many people talk about it. I originally heard about it from my sibling, and I eventually read snippets of the original Mandarin and even watched The Untamed. With that experience, I was quite curious about how the comic would go. Does the comic match up to these masterpieces so far? The answer is yes.

Wei Wuxian’s involvement and clashes with the well-known energy cultivator clans, and his relationship with one of the strongest energy cultivators, Lan Zhan, draw open the curtain on this story. 

Our protagonist, Wei Wuxian, is an interesting character. He’s professional and resourceful while equally carefree and mischievous. Even though he’s known as evil incarnate by many characters, he actually shows kindness by worrying about his adopted brother and his former clan when they’re in trouble.  Despite his kindness, the characters considered morally good in this series, such as the other energy cultivators, slander Wei Wuxian by emphasising his ability to manipulate demons and demonic energy, which introduces the tension between the concepts of good and evil. I look forward to seeing how that juxtaposition further plays out when more volumes are released.

© Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and Luo Di Cheng Qiu / 2022 Seven Seas Entertainment, LLC

The glossary and added notes are a welcome addition to explain unfamiliar terms for Western readers. The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is deeply rooted in concepts familiar to Chinese culture, such as qi or jiangshi, the latter of which has been translated to “walking corpses.” New readers may have a hard time juggling the ensemble cast of characters and unfamiliar Chinese concepts, but the comic’s editors and staff try to help out. The intricate worldbuilding and the aids given by the editors and staff to understand the story make the time spent exploring the large cast and unfamiliar territory worthwhile.

Like Isabelle said, I do believe the comic will do the series justice. It is also a fairly faithful adaptation of the original novel, so existing fans will enjoy this series once again in a different format. But newcomers are also gently welcomed into this series — the comic is fairly digestible and serves as a great entry point to this world. I highly recommend anyone curious to check it out! You will not be disappointed.

By: Crystal

Seven Seas describes the series as:

Feared and hated for his sinister abilities, Wei Wuxian–the grandmaster of demonic cultivation–was driven to his death when the most powerful clans united to destroy him.

Thirteen years later, Wei Wuxian is reborn. Summoned by a young man who sacrificed his soul in a forbidden ritual, Wei Wuxian is now bound to seek vengeance on the stranger’s behalf or risk the destruction of his own soul. But when an evil entity emerges, a familiar face from Wei Wuxian’s past suddenly appears amidst the chaos–a powerful cultivator who will help shine a light on the dark truths that surround them.

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