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Review: Ronin Island #1

Ronin Island #1

Concepts, or really curses like “Sins Of The Father,” are things that haunt families for years.  Blood feuds between families have been known to separate people who’d normally be friends. Though it may sound cliché, but it is so very true in many instances, hate is something you are thought. As Tupac said in his song “THUG LIFE” and what was further elaborated on in The Hate U Give, the power of hate drives many to do things out of pure evil for reasons many do not even know how to express.

Sometimes the only thing that can break that cycle of hate is a common enemy. One of my favorite shows The Orville explored in its recent two-parter episode eradication may be enough for enemies to become allies. In a historical example of this and a “what if,” I always wondered if the Kouga and Iga clans in Japan ever figured out what Tokugawa Ieyasu was up to, how powerful they would have been? In the debut issue of Ronin Island, a post-apocalyptic event in 19th century Japan leads once enemies to become allies against a greater threat.

We are taken to 19th century Japan, in a time where a mysterious event has wiped every major city in China, Japan and Korea, leaving many to flee elsewhere including one island in the East China Sea. We meet Kenichi, the son of a great samurai leader, who has just passed away, as he is still dealing with the grief and trying to live to his father’s looming legacy. We also meet Hana, a Korean orphan who has been raised by her swordmaster and who has become one of the best swordsman on the island. As we soon find out they pretty much hate each other and must compete to see who is the better Samurai. Before either of them could relish any respite from the competition, the intruder alarm goes off, as a strange ship approaches the island, where we meet general Sato, an envoy for the new Shogun who demands fealty from the island dwellers. By issue’s end, a greater menace has invaded the island as the island’s elders face a decision that may save or doom them all.

Overall, a powerful story that proves how engaging and entertaining a storyteller Greg Pak is. The story by Pak is heartfelt, action packed, and at times funny. The art by the creative team is beautiful and complements the story well. Altogether, a well-done debut that instantly invests the reader in this world.

Story: Greg Pak
Art: Giannis Milonogiannis, Irma Knivila and Simon Bowland
Story: 10 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Ronin Island #1

Ronin Island #1

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

Review: Captain America: Promised Land

The year is 2314, and the grandson of Steve Rogers lives in the utopian America Captain America dream about.

Captain America: Promised Land collects issues #701-704 from Mark Waid, Leonardo Romero, J.G. Jones, Adam Hughes, Howard Chaykin, Rod Reis, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Jordie Bellaire, Paul Mounts, Jesus Aburtov, Irma Knivila, and Joe Caramagna.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores today. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW


Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: X-Men: Blue #4


It was teased a few issues ago, and it’s official, Wolverine is back… well not that Wolverine, a different one. James Hudson, Wolverine’s “Ultimate Universe” son has made his full debut in the 616 as the X-Men team tracks him down after a hit by Cerebro. There’s some good here and there’s some bad, but overall the issue is an entertaining one.

X-Men Blue #4 has the team flying when Cerebro pings a mutant. The issue with that opening is that it feels a little out of the blue (no pun intended) disconnected from the previous issue’s run in with Bastion and the Sentinels. You’d think this team would be concerned with that or maybe on the hunt for them? There’s not a mention or a focus as they head right into investigating this mysterious mutant. That’s my biggest problem with the issue as they’re presented with a threat but get distracted by something else with no follow-up. Shouldn’t Magneto get called in? Shouldn’t they be on the offensive with this? But I digress…

The team is on the hunt for this mysterious individual and how they come across him and the interaction is pretty paint by numbers. Little ground is broken, but the interaction between the team and their dynamic is really good. That stands out as the strongest thing in the series. Writer Cullen Bunn has the characters down and is building to something nice (ie clearly Jean having a “turn” towards evil or corruption). There’s also a lighthearted tone about it all, again a good thing that fits the teenage spirit of the characters.

The art by Julian Lopez along with inks by José Marzan, Jr. and Walden Wong, and colors by Irma Knivila are all really good and fit the tone of the comic really well. My gripe though is Hudson himself who is given hair that’s straight up Wolverine, a look that feels more like a “come on” than something natural about him. His clean cut look we saw in the Ultimate Universe was something that felt solid in that he stood apart from his dad. Due to just the addition of the haircut, it feels like an attempt to replace or make us forget.

Does the Marvel universe need a third Wolverine? We’ll see, but the end of the issue has me really intrigued as it challenges some assumptions I had about the fate of the Ultimate Universe and its characters. It opens up some possibilities, but also could lead to the mess that was the previous Marvel Universe. We’ll see where Bunn goes from here, but so far, he has me intrigued to see what happens next.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Julian Lopez Cover Art: Arthur Adams
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.45 Overall: 7.70 Recommendation: Read