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Review: The Art of War: A Graphic Novel

The Art of War: A Graphic Novel

The first time I heard of Sun Tzu, was in a military tactics class I was in where a few of his quotes were used to drive home certain points. Each lesson we had was tethered to how certain aspects of his book were used in decisive military battles. The way the instructor thought the class made you want to read the book and every footnote in the class. So, when I had the chance to actually read Sun Tzu’s classic tome I was simply blown away.

The classic teaches the reader how to proceed in certain situations and how to overcome just about every obstacle. It quickly became a book which every business leader used and has been heavily referenced in many movies. In Canterbury Classics’ and Pete Katz’s graphic adaptation of Art Of War we get a true yet beautiful depiction of this essential publication.

We are taken through the book, through the eyes of a young student, learning martial arts, as his master, or “Sifu”, goes over theory culled from this epic work. In the first part” Making Plans”, we learn of the five fundamentals that acts as the central nerve throughout the book and the seven questions every leader needs to ask to foresee victory or defeat. In the second part, “Waging War”, he gets into why being prepared ensures swift success and relies heavily on troop loyalty. In the third part” Strategic Attacks”, it gets into how strong leadership also dictates who holds victory in a battle. In the fourth part “Tactical Oppositions”, where Sun Tzu , he gets into the five rules of war, and how each rule measures the battlefield. In the fifth part,” Energy”, he dives into the concept of organized chaos. In the sixth part” Targets”, he gets into how knowing your battlefield, can ensure success despite the odds. In the seventh part, “Battle Manuevers”, he gets into how understanding duplicity is key to greater success. In the eighth part,” Tactical Variations”, he gets into contingency planning and how to avoid the five personality pitfalls. In the ninth part, “On The March”, he digs into the importance of holding your ground. In the tenth part, “Terrain”, he gets in to seizing your opportunity and crushing your enemy when you can. In the eleventh part,” The Nine Situations”, he gets into different positions one holds in the midst of battle. In the twelfth part, “Attack By Fire”, we learn of how to use fire in all its forms to manipulate your enemy. In the last part, “Spies”, he gets into he importance of espionage and different types of clandestine operators.

Overall, an interesting and faithful interpretation that gives reader a whole new outlook on this important book. The lessons by Sun Tzu is truly invaluable. The art by Katz is vivid and gorgeous. Altogether, a great adaptation that makes these lessons relatable to all audiences.

Story: Sun Tzu Art: Pete Katz
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Choice Quotes

Punisher #1

The Punisher – Victorious warriors win first and then go to war… Defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.  Sun-Tzu, “The Art of War,” written four hundred years before Christ gave the hippies a dress code.  He understood a soldier needs a clear path to victory before he lifts a weapon.

Secret Invasion: War of Kings

Grand Commander H’Jke Jeeku – The great Skrull enterprise — a jihadist invasion of Earth through infiltration — has ended in disaster, and the damnable human species will be crying out for vengeance.


Crystal – Are you suggesting that the Inhumans cast aside generations of reserved isolation and… what?  Adopt an active stance?  A preemptive one?


Crystal – We have crossed a line that we cannot uncross.  Murder is much like virginity.  Once the act is done, it is always done.