Bandaged, exhausted, and scarred mentally as well as physically, Keiko is taken from prison by an agent of the Noh and “reassembled” into “Scarab,” a woman with no friends, no lover, no past, and no clear future beyond revenge against the Yakuza underground. From street punk to deadly assassin, Lost in Translation details how the Noh finds and molds its new agents into the masked killing machines we know from Kabuki volumes 1-5. In a series of flashbacks Scarab recounts her past to fellow Noh operative Tigerlily: running away from an orphanage, living a wild life in Tokyo’s back alleys, getting mixed up with some business for the Yakuza… and finally losing everything in a spray of bullets and broken glass. Chronologically, Lost in Translation takes place at the same time as Kabuki Volumes 3 and 5. As Kabuki languishes in a Control Corps hospital and the Noh agents set out to track her down, Scarab and Tigerlily snatch an evening alone together to recapture their past lives before risking everything to kill one of their own. Scarab traces a series of repeated images and symbols throughout her life, seeking to reconstruct the memories, grief, and hope for the future that the Noh has forbidden.
Lost in Translation was published in 2002, but most of its episodes were written by Mack and drawn by Mays between 1999 and 2001. Artistically this installment of the story of the Noh is most like the earlier volumes of Kabuki, made up of starkly black and white panels across which blood, glass, ink, and smoke drift in beautiful abstract patterns. The story ends with a hauntingly familiar picture of Kabuki’s distorted face as she crosses the borders of sanity in an attempt to second guess the Noh and save her own life.
Kabuki, vol. 6: Scarab
By David Mack
Image Comics 2003