It’s no secret that Solo Leveling is an absolute must-read light novel, but I think the comic books add a whole new dimension to the imaginative action that this story presents. As Jinwoo Sung explores his new abilities, we get to see a different side of him in this new volume. It’s almost character-breaking in some aspect, though, since his character changes drastically compared to who he was in Volume 1.
Solo Leveling Comic Vol. 2 begins with Jinwoo Sung in a bit of a situation as he is drastically under-leveled and facing a formidable enemy. In these moments, he must learn to believe in himself and the strange leveling system he has access to. It’s a pretty tense opening as events develop. Still, some strange plot holes appear, such as how the fatigue stat actually works, since he grinds levels in this opening dungeon but doesn’t really care about stamina until a boss later in the story.
Regardless, I think these scenes are essential since you can directly compare him to the person he becomes within a C-rank dungeon raid. He discovers a lot about the system here but also understands the symbiotic relationship that they have. He must come to terms with this because he has to make a callous decision to survive. Sure, he was weak and knew how to navigate conversations as a vulnerable person, but his strength can’t be hidden forever.
What I love most about Solo Leveling Comic Vol. 2 is how the chapters aren’t afraid to completely break the hero formula that we are used to. For example, Jinwoo Sung is not some glowing beacon to help those in need or build a harem around him; he’s simply trying to survive and make some money. It’s clear that he is merely human in these moments, but his choices are impulsive since he doesn’t take into account alternative measures. Honestly, it makes him such a great protagonist because he isn’t perfect.
The illustration and panel works are brilliant from Dubu, who depict the action scenes and even a few flashbacks wonderfully. I think the pacing of showing Jinwoo Sung come to terms with his now power shown in the panels was terrific. I loved how shadows were used to show his shift in mood and how the graphic scenes didn’t come with any padding; we were just on for the ride as this system presented one option, survive.
Solo Leveling Comic Vol. 2 only highlights further how much of a must-read series this is. If you don’t have time for the light novel, which I still encourage you to read, this is the next best thing. Even as a companion piece to the light novel, we get to see the changes happening with Jinwoo Sung, and it’s almost mesmerizing. I’m glad this series isn’t slowing down, as I feel like we’re just scratching the surface of what this system and Jinwoo Sung are capable of.
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