After a mysterious attack wipes out the major cities of 19th century Japan, Korea, and China, survivors from all three lands find refuge on a hidden island and build a new society.
Hana, the orphaned daughter of Korean peasants, and Kenichi, son of a great samurai leader, have little in common except for a mutual disdain for the other. But these young warriors will have to work together when an army invades the island with shocking news: there is a new Shogun and the Island is expected to pay fealty in exchange for protection from a new enemy…a mutated horde that threatens to wipe out all humanity.
I picked this comic up partly because it was written by Greg Pak, but mainly because of the concept; I mean, how can samurai verses monsters not be appealing on some level to any comic fan? It’s one of those things that demands your attention with the promise of much slicing and dicing, of warrior verses monster.
On paper it’s a pretty freaking cool concept.
Ronin Island #1 starts out with a trial to determine the leader of the island community (though in fairness the reward for victor of the trial isn’t explicitly stated, so that may be just one character adding pressure on another to perform well). Unfortunately, the trial feels a little too familiar, and that the build up and event takes place over the better part of half the comic doesn’t leave much room for the story to find its legs once the trial is over (complete with a subtle commentary on the weight that traditions and expectations place upon our shoulders), which causes the issue to stumble a little.
But where the plot feels a tad routine right now, there are several moments (like the previously mentioned commentary) that shine brightly for the future, leaving numerous possibilities open – both for the plot and how Pak intends to tell the story.
Giannis Milonogiannis has an energetic and lively style to his artwork, with the characters feeling like they belong in the visual world he’s created. There is the slightest flavour of traditional manga in the visual presentation of the comic as motion-blur lines make frequent appearances when the events on screen are progressing as a rapid pace. Milonogiannis’s art, along with Irma Knivila‘s colouring bring the opening segment of the comic around, keeping me engaged visually at least.
It may seem that I wasn’t a fan of this book, but that’s not the case; I really enjoyed Ronin Island #1, and aside from a few minor things, which may very well never be an issue again in future issues, now that we’ve gotten to know the characters a little more. This is a fun read, and certainly one worth checking out if you’re curious.
Story: Greg Pak Art: Giannis Milonogiannis Colours: Irma Knivila
Story: 7.6 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: A Strong Read
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review