Greg Pak, writer
Giannis Milonogiannis, illustrator
Irma Kniivila, colors
Simon Bowland, letters
For those who haven’t started reading Ronin, the story takes place on an island in the East China Sea off the coast of “Kyushi.” We pick up the story 31 years after an event called “the great wind” that destroys countless lives. The preceding issues focused on a little village, their people and practices, but focuses on two young people. Kenichi and Hana compete to be the next protector of the island. Kenichi is the son of a samurai. Hana is the daughter of a peasant family.
This issue continues the competition between the two heroes as they take separate approaches in opposing the large threat that faces the island and its people. Kenichi joined a band of bandits. Hana maintains her connection to the sensei who trained her to be a warrior. However, by the end of the issue Kenichi and Hana are on the same team and face an overwhelming challenge as they are surrounded by enemy warriors.
The entertainment value continues to be the conflict between good and evil with a small island village and peasants caught in the crossfire. I’m interested to see how the sensei and General Sato compete for control. Will the heroes defeat the combined strength of their enemies and what role with the young heroes play in overcoming them?
I’m bored with the competition between Kenichi and Hana. They previously established a dynamic, which had the female hero with superior skills facing the male from a privileged background, that hasn’t grown in depth or nuance. I would welcome a fundamental shift in one of the characters to show growth or change to help the story regain its legs.
Nevertheless, the art is a highlight of the story. The sparse representation fits the ancient qualities of the story. Tans and earth shades form the backdrop for a rich color experience. I love the way the characters are represented visually embracing a depiction of the emotion that is accurate to the story. The clear line work for panels helps the reader to locate the focal point in each sequence and supports the advancement of the story.
Overall = 7/10
This is a story with an engaging premise, young heroes fighting incredible odds, at odds with each other. It will be interesting to see if the writer can expand on that premise and inject some life into a story that is stagnating a bit. Still, I recommend this book to young readers.