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Review: Samurai – The Isle With No Name #1

samurai-comic_1_covera_frc3a9dc3a9ric-genc3a9tI picked up Titan Comics’ ‘Samurai – Isle With No Name’ first issue this past Wednesday. I wished I had done a little investigation prior, because as I was reading it, I noticed I was missing something from this noble warrior’s tale. Later, I learned, this was a European bestseller from Soliel (a European imprint), brought stateside by Marvel, and now back in print via Titan Comics. Nonetheless, the current iteration is still approachable, and serves as a good jumping point into Takeo’s story. For now, I’ll make do without the first four volumes.

First off, the artwork is amazing. The layouts are extremely intricate, detailing lavish bucolic Japanese island settings; and the complex and multi-variegated scenes capture the vibrant colors and life of feudal Japan. Cinematic action sequences spray across the panels with whizzing, blood curdling, swordplay reminiscent of Frank Miller’s ‘Ronin.‘ If you can, pick up the alternate cover with Mack’s impressionistic watercolor rendition–it’s beautiful.

The story is good, but not original. Regardless, it is enjoyable, and compelling enough to keep my interest. It’s a mishmash of Kurosawa’s and Sergio Leone’s lone warrior themes—the subtitle ‘The Isle with No Name‘ should have been my first clue—with a distinctive European style, as it flips back and forth across three intertwined stories.

Takeo, our magical sword wielding Ronin hero, is on a quest to learn more of his brother’s secrets. Meanwhile, another Samurai makes his way to the same Island, as an enforcer for a feudal overlord, coming to collect the annual tariff. Every year the islanders must pay tribute should their champion(s) fail to best the Lord’s contracted warrior tax-collector. To make matters worst, the island natives fall prey to a yearly plague that makes its appearance in coincidence with the annual tax. Alongside the two Samurai, we are introduced to a loving old couple: a caring wizened old man whose sickly wife lies near death. How it all connects, I surmise, will be revealed in future issues.

Story: Jean-François Di Giorgio  Art: Frédéric Genêt 
Story: 7.5 Art: 10 Overall: 8.00 Recommendation: Buy

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review