|English publisher|| Madman Entertainment
Rebirth (Korean: 리버스 Libus, Stylization: 리버스(REBIRTH)) is a manhwa series created and drawn by Lee Kang-woo, writing under the pen name of Woo. It has been published in serialized format in the Korean weekly comic magazine Comic Champ since 1998. As of December 2010, it is up to twenty-six volumes and ongoing in Korea.
Rebirth is the story of a 17th-century vampire named Deshwitat L. Rudbich. It follows his adventures after he is cast into a 300 year limbo by his enemies.
Rebirth is published in English by Tokyopop, with adaptation by Bryce P. Coleman and Aaron Sparrow. As of February 2009, twenty-two volumes have been published in English. Rebirth is published in Swedish by Wahlströms. The Swedish release started in summer 2005, with three volumes in the series released by the end of the year. Rebirth is published in Italy by Flashbook.
The Story Thus Far
Three hundred years ago, the God of White Magic, Kalutika Maybus was nearing the end of a one-sided battle against the vampire Deshwitat L. Rudbich. After a plea from Deshwitat's fiance, Lilith, to stop the fighting, Kalutika cold heartedly murders her. Angered, Desh attempts a final, desperate attack against the God, only to have it shrugged off. Kalutika, in a sort of perverse mercy, sealed Deshwitat in limbo, where he remained for several centuries, calculating his revenge.
Time passed until the 21st century, when a band of spiritual investigators led by Sang-Ho Do uncover a band of demons. Engaging in combat, most of the party is quickly killed, leaving only Sang-Ho, his daughter Remi, and an exorcist, Millenear. The remaining trio are quickly outclassed. Their own deaths seem imminent until Do's daughter, Remi, wounded, bleeds onto a pile of "dust". Her blood inadvertently breaks the seal that binds Deshwitat, releasing him.
Still weak from his captivity, Deshwitat is no match for the demons. It is then that Sang-Ho makes up his mind to sacrifice himself to save his daughter and Millenear Sheffield. Draining San-Do, Deshwitat regains his strength and makes short work of the demons. Angry at the vampire for her father's death, Remy wants to kill the vampire. However, after Deshwitat turns Sang-Do's body into resurrection dust, he reassures her that upon his death, her father would return to life as a human being. He also angrily notices his ring is red, cursing Kalutika.
A lot has changed since the 17th century. Carriages have been replaced by cars, the Internet connects the world, and vampires have become the stuff of legends. But beneath the veneer of technology, magic and religion still reign supreme. Kalutika is the most powerful person in the world, although few actually know he exists. Determined to exact his revenge on Kalutika, Deshwitat enlists Millenear's assistance to teach him light magic.
Upon further discussion, Deshwitat explains that because he practices dark magic, it was overwhelmed by Kalutika's light magic. If Desh were to learn light magic, he might be on equal ground with the God. Millenear tells him that she is unable to teach light magic herself, but she does know of a Buddhist monastery in Hong Kong that could be able to instruct him. Flying to Hong Kong, the three arrive at the monastery only to be attacked by a swordsman and his companion. Deshwitat discovers in shock that the swordsman is in fact his old friend Rett Butler, who should have died over 300 years ago. Rett sees his friend and calls out to his companion, Beryun, that their information is incorrect. However, Rett is promptly knocked unconscious by Beryun, who then engages in battle with Deshwitat.
Desh quickly discovers that Beryun is not only skilled in Dark Magic, but Light Magic as well. Millenear, unable to feel a life force from her, discovers that she is not human. Desh and Beryun battle until Master Tae, who is in charge of the monastery, stops the battle, revealing that she had never ordered an attack on Deshwitat. Desh attacks Master Tae, but is soundly beaten. When Remy happily declares that they can kill him, Tae corrects Remy, stating that Deshwitat is in fact the key to the humanity's salvation.
A Little History
Created by the monks, Beryun is a living Yin Yang symbol. She is the perfect synthesis of Light and Dark magic and the only being able to wield both. She is deadly efficient, but soulless, so all she can do is follow orders. As for Rett, during Desh's last battle against Kalutika, Rett was supposed to provide backup for him. He would arrive with several men, but too late. He would find Lilith's body and Deshwitat's ashen remains. Kalutika returned and told Rett what he had done. Rett tried to avenge his friend, but was severely wounded, leaving an x shaped scar between his eyes, and saw his men butchered before his eyes. Because of his past friendship, Kalutika did not allow Rett to die, and gave him immortality. Kal instructed his one time friend that it was nothing personal, that he simply wanted Rett to live to see the Armageddon that the God of Light would bring forth.
Deshwitat reawakens from his slumber to catch most of the conversation and then asks what his part is in all of this. It is mentioned that Kalutika is prophesized by several texts, including those of Nostradamus in Century 2, Quatrain 62 of his prophesies, as the one that will bring about the end of the world. Even his name is almost the same, as Nostradamus mentioned the name Mabus, and Kalutika's last name was Maybus. Also mentioned is that a vampire who has faced him will be the world's best chance to save the world. Deshwitat is believed to be the best choice. He also receives some crushing news. The monks are unable to instruct him on how to learn the magic of the light. However, there may be one place where he could learn. The center of all light magic in the world: The Vatican.
Lessons Learned in the Vatican
The Rebirth Crew (as I will now refer to the group from now on) heads to the Vatican, where they are awaiting the arrival of Deshwitat. They accidentally stumble upon his feeding on a young woman, whom he converts to resurrection dust for revival after his death. Angry, Millenear attacks Deshwitat, who calmly beats her thoroughly. He then tells her that his feeding is merely the same as that of a wolf eating a rabbit in the wild. There is nothing he can do about it and that reducing the girl to resurrection dust is the best he can do. Disgusted, he leaves the group. While healing, Millenear has a flashback to her traumatic childhood, where she was cared for by an abusive aunt and uncle until they were killed by her spiritual rage. A priest named Father Williams took her in and taught her how to focus her powers to help people. However, she lost her standings in the priest when she disobeyed the head Bishop of the Vatican to save a possessed girl using her dark magic ability. Though she protested that she did what she had to, to save the girl, she was defrocked. It is then that Deshwitat appears and tells her that they were simply afraid of her and that she should feel no shame at the course her live has taken. She awakens, but Deshwitat lingers for a moment before disappearing.
Alone, Deshwitat is soon met by a priest, who instructs him that a priest wishes to meet him. Desh willingly goes along, but is instead ambushed by a large group of priests, which also include the elite special forces unit of the Catholic Church, the Order of St. Michael. Deshwitat fights as best as he can, since his powers are being blocked by a seal underneath St. Paul's Cathedral. However, he soon succumbs to his injuries and is about to be destroyed when Lilith appears to him in a vision. She asks him how he was able to fight before and he tells her it was his love for her that kept him going. Lilith transforms into Kalutika and asks him if he really is that weak to succumb to these priests. His thirst for vengeance reawakened, Deshwitat draws upon his own inner strength and devastates the party, taking one of the Order of St. Michael, a girl named Erica, hostage.
Meanwhile, Beryun returns and tells them of Deshwitat's whereabouts. Millenear realizes that Deshwitat is being led for death and leads the group into the Vatican, where they eventually find Father Williams, now caretaker of the Vatican library. There they hear the sad story of Deshwitat's imprisonment and the subsequent coverup by the church itself. The group sound finds the Order of St. Michael, who realizes that they were deceived by the Bishop of the Vatican.
Deshwitat soon reunites with both parties and confront the Bishop, who reveals that he wanted Desh murdered because he could not accept the truth that a being of darkness would be the savior. He decides that rather than let the world be saved by a vampire, he would instead assist in its destruction. He instructs Millenear to kill Deshwitat, giving her back her standing in the church. To his and Deshwitat's surprise, Millenear turns on the Bishop and blasts him with white magic, causing him to morph into a creature of white magic. With the Order quickly unlocking the seal, Deshwitat regains his magical power. However, even Deshwitat's full strength is not enough to stop the creature. Only by teaming up with Erica to combine their attacks is the creature destroyed.
The Rebirth Crew and the Order of St. Michael part on good terms and the Crew heads back to Asia. Millenear now holds the diary of Father Daniel, once a record keeper for Deshwitat, Kalutika and Rett in the old days and they discover the secret of Deshwitat's ring. It was meant to glow red to signify to the wearer that its twin's owner was still alive. When the owner died, the rings would turn blue. Because the ring is still red, it means that Lilith is still alive. It turns out that Lilith was resurrected by Kalutika as a sort of revenge on Deshwitat. Despite her forced loyalty to him, Lilith still loves Deshwitat.
Once back in Asia, Deshwitat tells the group that their trip to the Vatican did bear some good news. During his battle with Millenear, Deshwitat had been under the impression that light magic would always defeat Dark Magic. However, Millenear was considerably weaker than Deshwitat and lost easily. Therefore, Deshwitat tells them that he doesn't have to learn Light Magic to defeat Kalutika. All he has to do is strengthen his Dark Magic.
After the Vatican
Time passes, and they convene yet again. Master Tae tells them that Kalutika has begun his apocalypse of mankind. She introduces their newest companion, Eiji Inaba, a ninja of the Pae-sin clan. Deswhitat says that simply increasing their numbers won't help. He decides to test him along with Millenear and Remi. Should they land a single scratch on him within a ten-minute time limit, they can stay. After Eiji loses, Remi displays her newfound Shaman powers, she collapses and Millenear is unable to land a blow. With their loss, they are kicked out of the group. However, Master Tae insists that they take Eiji since he is a vital componenent in contacting the New York ninja sect.
Once they reach New York, they find that the New York Kunoichi's have been murdered by what looks like vampires. The murderer's are later introduced as Rang, Belose, and Lester. After Deshwitat is sent an unknown box, they intervene and steal it from him. They are foiled however when Lester is killed by Millenear and Belose along with Rang are beaten. Grey, the proclaimed Lord of the Vampires, kidnaps Millenear and Belose uses a bomb to destroy them. Deshwitat uses his Dark Barrier and Beryun uses her Arson's Shield to protect them from the attack. With no other option, they open the box and find a vampire's sand of the dead. Remi uses her blood to revive it, and Draistail appears. They then play a trick on Rang to get her on their side. Draistail offers to train Deshwitat, but Deshwitat refuses, insisting that he has to go save Millenear. Draistail traps him, saying that he is not yet ready.
Meanwhile, Rett and Beryun decide to go save Millenear themselves. They are soundly beaten by Grey. Deswhitat escapes from Draistail's trap with Remi's help, and goes to aid Rett and Beryun. He finds them both near death. He then contacts Eiji and tells them where to pick them up. Then, he faces off Grey. He soon finds that Grey is completey indestructible. The battle is stopped short by Grey, claiming that they finish it at the VLT.
The Vampire Lord Tournament
He then takes up Draistail's offer and trains for the VLT. One week later, he competes in the VLT or the " Vampire Lord Tournament." After numerous battles and numerous close calls, Deshwitat faces off against Millenear who was turned into a vampire by Rang. He would've lost if he hadn't had a heart to heart with her nearing the end of the battle. He is able to beat her and advance onto Grey.
Before the battle with Grey, Draistail forms a plan. After Deshwitats companions strengthen the protective source around the arena, Desh is to launch one final powerful attack upon Grey. In the midst of battle with Grey, however, he reveals that he knew of this plan all along. Draistail leads Rett, Beryun, Remi, and the Order of St. Michael into a trap that he along with Grey and the Council of 6 had set up. Grey calls the Elder vampire on his cell phone to let them go, and he allows Deshwitat to strike him in the chest, severely wounding him. After that, Lilith arrives and destroy's the vampire race along with the five of the Council of 6. She converses briefly with Deshwitat claiming that she does not wish to cause him harm. However, she "must do as her Lord Kalutika wills" and moves to kill him but he is saved by the Elder Vampire, who teleports them to safety in a time box. She saves Grey and leaves the VLT in ruins. With the interference of Lilith, Deshwitat is elevated to Vampire Lord. There, he learns that the Vampire Lord's role in the world is to lead the vampires against the gods. The Elder dies, leaving Deshwitat apparently the last vampire in existence.
Tying Up Loose Ends
While Deshwitat trains for 30 days in the Monarch's Room, Rett and comnpany go to where Rang is waiting for them. When they arrive, it seems that she has more power than when they had last met. By drinking Millenear's blood, the blood of a "god seed," she has power greater than that of Grey. Rett, however, is able to figure out that she has little control over her newfound powers and with the help of his comrads, they are able to trick her into overloading herself. With no power in her left, Rett kills her. They can now go and revive Millenear, but they decide to do it in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, before reviving Millenear, Rett and company decide to question Master Tae about Millenear's origin. Master Tae explains to them that Millenear is indeed a "god seed" and when her human life ends, Millenear will ascend to being a God. After hearing this, everyone decides to keep this information from Millenear and revive her. Now, the groups prepare for a battle in Tibet, which will decide the fate of the world. BEFORE Deshwitat can come back.
Deshwitat L. Rudbich
- Deswitat was born in the 17th century to a vampire father and a human mother. He lived a normal childhood until Captain Maybus, leader of the Sacred Knights, stormed Rudbich Castle. Maybus had been falling into obscurity with the lack of notable victories and saw the Rudbichs, who hadn't committed any crimes, as a target to re-establish himself. The elder Rudbichs were killed, but Deshwitat survived thanks to Maybus's younger son, Kalutika. Kal attempted to move the young vampire into hiding, but was followed by his father, who attempted to kill Deshwitat. Kal held off his father long enough for the young vampire to escape, only to captured by a circus troop, who would hold him captive as an attraction in their freak show. Desh would remain here for several years until he met a young girl named Lilith, who showed him kindness. She would leave him a doll to keep him company. Emboldened by her kindness, Deshwitat would break free of the circus and roamed the countryside for years, becoming a powerful Dark Magician. Deshwitat was never particularly evil, but held his status with dignity. 350 years ago his beloved fiancee Lilith was killed by the God of Light Kalutika, and Deshwitat's body was sealed in limbo while his mind was left to contemplate revenge for 350 years. He is awoken in the modern day to find Kalutika's forces rising in power. Deshwitat now seeks the means to destroy Kalutika, and after completing his quest he plans to let himself die. Though Deshwitat appears cold and cruel, he is often capable of acts of compassion. Deshwitat's middle initial stands for Lived. Eventually, Deshwitat rises to the rank of Vampire Lord.
- Kalutika was once one of Deshwitat's closest friends and his confidant until Desh failed to save Kalutikas sister, Danube, from death. Kal was killed by soldiers shortly after pledging that he would kill Deshwitat for his actions. He was revived in a ceremony that turned him into a God. Kal now seeks to destroy humanity for its cruelty to him while he was alive. Kalutika is what is known as a God Seed.
- A 21-year-old Exorcist, Millenear was orphaned at an early age and placed in the care of her uncle and aunt. However, her relatives were abusive to her and one day, during a particularly heated exchange, Millenear killed them with her spiritual rage. Priest Williams took her in and taught her how to focus her powers to help people. She would become one of the best exorcists employed by the Vatican until she disobeyed the head Bishop of the Vatican to save a possessed girl using her dark magic abilities. She would lose her standing as a priest and left the service. She would partner with Sang-Ho Do in his journey's until meeting Deshwitat. Though Deshwitat is often critical of her, she stubbornly continues on in an effort to not only help him on his quest to defeat Kalutika, but to also prove herself worthy in his eyes.She was captured by Mr. Grey during an assassination attempt on Deshwitat and would be turned into a vampire. Curiously enough, Millenear retains independent thought, a feature not seen by humans turned into vampires, who instead are controlled by the vampire that created them. Millenear has subsequently been entered in the Lord of the Vampire's tournament and is in the same bracket as Deshwitat. She has instructed him not to die until they can face each other and has revealed to him that she is in love with him. During the battle between Deshwitat and her, Millenear admits to Deshwitat that she is in love with him. He seemingly scorns her and promises to give her a quick death. Millenear uses this to her advantage by wearing him out. When it seems that Deshwitat is too tired to fight, Millenear creates a crucifix and says that she will not only kill him, but herself too so that they could be in death together, but they both survive the kamikaze attack. Millenear again tries to kill the both of them, but Deshwitat stops her and embraces her, telling her that in another time, he would have loved her, and that he had failed to protect her(Millenear) just as he failed to protect Lilith. He tells her he knows she's telling the truth about Lilith still being alive, that he doesn't that she's the Lilith he knew anymore, but that he can't move on till she at peace, out of Kal's control. He says he can't promise anything, but they might be able to have a relationship afterward. He then kills her and promises to bring her back to life as a human once he has completed his mission in defeating Kalutika. He succeeds in this promise, despite discovering that she is a God Seed.
- The 17-year-old daughter of Sang-Ho Do, a supernatural investigator. She is angry at Deshwitat for draining her father's blood, but the vampire assures her that Sang-Ho can be resurrected after he himself is slain. Despite her dislike for the vampire, Remi works with Deshwitat to eliminate Kalutika in order to revive her father. Remi has some natural combat abilities, as she is undergoing training to become a shaman of earth magic. She is seen to become quite powerful later on in the series as she is able to make it the Order of St. Michael along with Renji in the Tower of Trials.
- Rett is Deshwitat's best friend and fighting partner, both in the past and in the present. Rett would lead a party of men to attempt to stop Kalutika's rebirth into a God, but would arrive too late. He would find the body of Lilith and the burnt remains of Deshwitat's body. Kalutika would return to meet Rett and proceeded to slaughter his men. Because of their past friendship, Kalutika forced immortality on him so that Rett would have to witness the end of the world. Rett is a good natured and rowdy man who enjoys beer, women and good times. He is often able to read Deshwitat's true feelings, no matter how much the vampire tries to conceal them. He is quite lecherous, particularly to Millenear, Remy and Beryun. He was also in love with Master Tae in her youth, but did not pursue the relationship because he would have to see her grow old and die. Some refer to him as 'Hellrasier'.
- A spiritual warrior created by Master Tae, fulfilling her promise of creating an immortal companion for Rett. Beryun is the only person capable of simultaneously wielding Light and Dark magic. Despite her appearance, she isn't human, as noted by Deshwitat during their initial meeting. Despite the fact that she literally has no personality and is cold to her teammates, she is devoted to them and is willing to put herself at risk to save them.
- A young noblewoman, known for her kindness and charity. Lilith fell deeply in love with the vampire Deshwitat, helping him rediscover his humanity after years of cruelty from humans. To signify their bond and to reassure her of his safety when in battle, Deshwitat gave Lilith a set of rings, binding the two for eternity. When the rings were red, the other ring bearer was alive. Blue signified the other wearer's death. During Kalutika's rebirth, Lilith attempted to stop the battle between Deshwitat and Kalutika by reminding him that they were once friends who cared for one another. She was killed shortly thereafter by Kalutika when she tried to shield the vampire from his attack. However, Kalutika would revive Lilith to serve as his consort. Deshwitat would discover this painful truth the hard way, when he discovered that his ring was still red. It is revealed in Vol. 21 that she is very powerful, gaining power from Kalutika. Though Lilith opposes Kalutika's plans for the world, she is powerless to stop him directly. Despite Deshwitat's long absence, she is still very much in love with him. It is revealed that she is the mother of Grey. She is called the " Holy Golden Mother of Light."
- The head of a Buddhist temple for light magic, Master Tae has been watching the events leading to the possible end of the world unfold. She guides the Deshwitat party in their quest to stop Kalutika and also trains Remy and Millenear to improve their talents in order for them to be better able to assist Deshwitat, Rett, and Beryun. Master Tae is immensely powerful and isn't taken lightly by any of the party (in particular, Deshwitat.) In her youth, Master Tae was in love with Rett Butler, but seeing his pain at having outlived his friends and family, she swore to him that she would create a partner for him that would also been immortal. Master Tae dedicated much of her life in creating a partner for Rett, ultimately culminating in the creation of Beryun. Shortly after announcing that she fulfilled her promise, Rett confessed to her that if he could have fallen in love with another woman, it would have been her. She still has a room that holds an old photograph of her and Rett in her youth, possibly dating from the 1930s.
- The would be lord of the Vampire Race. Currently the most powerful vampire alive, Grey's mission is to destroy Deshwitat.In an assassination attempt on Desh,Millenear is taken captive by Grey. Desh then engages him in battle to win Millenear back. The first battle between the two ended in a draw, so Grey extended an invitation to Desh to compete in the tournament to decide the next Lord of the Vampires. It is later revealed that Grey's power comes directly from Kalutika himself and it is hinted near the end of volume 16 that Grey is in fact the son of Desh and Lilith. Despite him saying that he is the son of Kal and Lilith. Except for his expressions he looks almost exactly like Deshwitat. His greatest asset is his limitless stamina, no matter how often he regenerates or how much power he uses, he never weakens. So long as a single hair remains on his head, he can heal endlessly; it has been suggested that he could regenerate from a single cell. He also contained an atomic blast with no apparent strain. He's probably the son of Deshwitat and Lilith, as she states during the final pages of volume 20. When confronted with the question in volume 21, Lilith fails to answer, further supporting this theory.
- Danube was Kal's adopted sister and was looked upon as both sweet and devoted to her older brother. Kal would often confide in her when the criticism by his father became too great for him to handle. As time would pass, Danube would become his personal confident to many of his feelings and secrets, including the secret of Deshwitat's true identity. Danube was arrested along with Lilith and imprisoned as a worshipper of the Devil, where she was raped. She was sentenced to hang the next morning. Despite an attempt by Kal, Deshwitat and Rett to save her and Lilith, only Lilith was rescued. Danube was beheaded in the same instant. It is her death that turned Kalutika against his old friend and would later result in his own death.She showed signs of feelings for Deshwitat.
The Hooded Man
- A man with a hood, with seemingly unlimited power, this man in the past set many of the events in motion that created the current conflict between Deshwitat and Kalutika.
There are several hints dropped in the manga that the hooded man is in fact, Kalutika himself from the future. A closeup of the man at one point in the story reveals a strong resemblance to the current appearance of Kalutika. The other hint is the sincerity in the man's voice when he speaks that he wanted to meet the young, innocent Kalutika one final time. If the man is Kalutika, then he himself had a hand in his own creation, as well as his own sorrow that he would suffer as a result of Danube's death.
Most notably, the Hooded Man, like Kalutika, is capable of time manipulation.
- Eiji is a ninja who was sent to lead Deshwitat, Rett, and Beryun to New York. Upon arriving there, his fellow kunoichi were found already killed (by Mr. Grey). Since then, he has stuck around with Deshwitat's group. He was watching the vampire tournament, but was sent with Remi on a mission to find the Order of St. Michael. He is quite perverted (pretty much the younger version of Rett) and is often seen hitting on Remi (most often very inappropriately).
- Draestail was in the form of vampire ash in a box that was given to Deshwitat. With the help of a few drops of Remi's virgin blood he was brought back to life to help train Deshwitat for his battle against Carldica and for the Lord of the Vampires tournament. He is a lecherous but crafty old man, to Eiji's awe and Deswhitat's disgust.
Millenear Shephield last name was derived from American baseball player, Gary Sheffield. Woo depicted Deshwitat to be a 28-year-old demon because he is "sick of the 13-17-year-old other pretty boys that seem to populate every other manhwa title out there right now." He also wanted a "manly man" for a lead character. Millenear was planned to be a "useless sidekick hanging around the main character". However, due to the fun in drawing her, Woo hinted that she might be the female heroine.