I have to say, I am always hesitant whenever I see a comic that has samurai themes written by American writers, since I have read some of the best manga (Japanese comic book) that goes into the genre. Dark Horse Comics’ “Samurai Heaven and Earth” had a pretty amazing start, until it got a little silly to towards the end and “No Honor” (by Top Cow) was a mini-series that did what it was supposed to do, but it hardly put the samurai themes together with its modern and supernatural mood. Well, Image comics seemed poised to try again with writer Owen Wiseman and art by Nam Kim with the 6-issue mini-series called “Samurai’s Blood”. Created by Michael Benaroya and Owen Wiseman, issue number one looks very promising, with art resembling the pages of a Japanese manga and breakdowns that does make one feel that he is in the Japanese feudal period.
At the dawn of the Edo period, when the Tokugawa shogunate was consolidating its power, the Clan Sanjo ruled a province where its noblemen cherished peace and took care of its people. While the world around them was slowly changing and the peace is being threatened by violence, they raised their children to prepare for the uncertainties of the future and hope for the best for their brethren. But no one can truly know what lies ahead and one needs to stand firm against the coming storm….
“Samurai’s Blood” issue number one is difficult to judge since it keeps everything rather vague. It merely introduces some of its major characters, the politics and way of life, during this time, and it is about struggle and the rise to power through murder. It does serve up some decent bloody and gory action that replicates the style we‘ve seen in Japanese anime. There really is nothing much to say about this first issue and I cannot exactly say much more for fear of spoiling the comic.
Issue one is all about betrayal, how it can cause causes and effects, how it can cause major ripples through life. It is also about secrets as the writing hints about secrets kept from Jun by the Sanjo clan. It gave me the impression that this secret would either make or break the series. Yuko’s implied potential danger makes for a good teaser to keep the reader on his toes. Clearly , there is something between Katashi, Jun and Yuko and this may cause their friendship to be tested sooner than later. The comic exposes certain points that give the reader the idea what he is in for, but never revealing too much about the Sanjo clan and exactly what is the relationship between them and the betrayal of Gakushi (seems like there may be more to it).
The script is pretty well drawn out and while it maintained that “Americanized” tone and mood, I appreciated how the writing by Wiseman does mimic the manner by which Japanese manga and poetry seem to reveal the philosophies and beliefs of this time. “All things good and evil are under the way.” and “Betrayal makes widows of women and monsters of men.”; I like how it played on the intended ambiguity and philosophy while it draws out the story. There was also a scene where Katashi, Jun and Yuko does calligraphy and their styles defined their personalities. Wiseman gave me the impression that he truly did his homework on the code of Bushido and of Japanese culture. Again, it all remains to be seen, as this is only the first issue, and I expect more details revealed later on in the series.
The art is definitely a tribute to anime and manga but it seemed heavily influenced by the art established by Image comics. Close ups are used heavily to express emotions, and Nam Kim does practice a sense of restraint in the violence. The imagery is well endowed, blood is shown and beheadings are seen; yet, it does not wallow in the violence alone. There is also a scene of “hinted at” sex, but if you are looking for sex and nudity, you may be off looking elsewhere in Japanese manga. Kim had a good eye for visuals and breakdowns, the comic’s designs do bring me to the Edo period. I do have some minor complaint, as some characters don’t exactly look like Japanese, and while I know anime does somewhat do this same style, I wanted more of a genuine feel to all of it.
I guess I am in for the rest of the issues, as “Samurai’s Blood” feel interesting enough for me to follow through. Issue one was only priced at a dollar but looking at the quality of the art and paper, I can see that issue two and on might be a higher cover price around $ 2.95-3.95. I am a sucker for samurai stories, and I do hope that this comic will exercise the Kurosawa, Kobayashi and Gosha influences.
A pretty strong start for Image Comics’ 6-issue mini-series that depicts a tale of betrayal, corruption and secrets that takes place in the Japanese feudal period. The first issue is filled with bloody and graphic imagery that gives its themes a lot of narrative impact. It was gutsy for Image Comics to price the first issue at a mere One dollar with such stunning artwork to grab new readers; for me, it worked since I am now in for the long haul. … more
In an era when lineage defined you, three teenagers must make their way through the world hiding their identities in order to find their destinies. As their village burns behind them, they are headed for a city they'd heard about only in stories. The three young samurai must now struggle to stay alive and take vengeance on the evil usurper who has destroyed the rest of their clan and the only world they'd ever known. Will they rise on the tides of vengeance, or they will they fall on the swords of fate?
Press Release Revenge, redemption, honor, and love shine in SAMURAI’S BLOOD, the new six-issue miniseries from Image Comics and Benaroya Publishing. Beginning in June, writer Owen Wiseman, in collaboration with interior artists Nam Kim and Matthew Dalton, along with cover artist Jo Chen, will introduce a tale of three young samurai battling their way through the world while hiding their identities in order to find their destinies. Readers can not only learn of the legacy of SAMURAI’S BLOOD, but they can now enter for a chance to take a piece of the journey home as well!
Wiseman explained, “We wanted to give fans who jump on board early a chance to win some one-of-a-kind art. It’s the fans really caring and paying attention that keeps us going, so we wanted to do something special for them.”
Before the journey of SAMURAI’S BLOOD begins, readers can join the SAMURAI’S BLOOD community on Facebook and Twitter to enter into a ...