Preview: BLOOD spills tomorrow 6/08/2011
SAMURAI’S BLOOD #1 (of 6) $1.00 introductory price (Image Comics/Benaroya Publishing, June 08, 2011 release date) Story: Owen Wiseman. Art: Nam Kim, Matthew Dalton & Jessica Kholinne. Cover: Jo Chen.
SAMURAI’S BLOOD flows across the pages like the ripples created by tiny flat stones being skimmed across the surface water of a quiet lagoon. If you immerse yourself and allow it to happen, it will plant your Western mind like a seedling in a newly furrowed field of Eastern soil. Your subconscious will readily accept the grains of Samurai philosophy and wisdom in text boxes scattered across the illustrations. For 32 pages you will experience civilization in 17th Century feudal Japan as if you are there.
I have not been so quickly integrated into the world of this type of story since enjoying the issues of THE PATH (Crossgen) as written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Bart Sears and others. Writer Owen Wiseman is a student of Japanese history and culture as well as an admirer of the films of Akira Kurosawa - - and those impressions are seamlessly threaded throughout the story of SAMURAI’S BLOOD. The art is equally splendid. If you appreciate the work of SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH (Dark Horse, again written by Marz) and the art style of Bart Sears, Jonathan Lau, Matthew Smith and Luke Ross you will be reminded of that high quality while reading and viewing SAMURAI’S BLOOD.
The art team of Kim, Dalton & Kholinne gets everything right in every detail, from exquisitely depicted landscapes to fluid action and fight scenes to facial expressions. The opening sequence where a young Samurai moves stealthily through a grain field in a sneak attack on two sentries is masterfully detailed. The body language of the group members gathered for a short trial and judgment by the ruling head of the Sanjo clan reveals their emotions and previews their intentions.
“The first order of a samurai is to serve his master. A single betrayal is more shameful than a thousand murders.” . . . . . . . . . . “Betrayal makes widows of women and monsters of men. The lives of those who suffer it and the souls of those who commit it are but rice for its table.” . . . . . . . . . . “Betrayal is destruction, as pure as it can be found in the world.” . . . . . . . . . . “Betrayal is the atavistic spirit of man laid bare.” . . . . . . . . . . “And yet all the glorious rise of man has been an upward spiral of betrayal and vengeance.”
A simple judgment is deemed wise by many but wrong by just one, who uses the decision as his impetus to first betray, and then set his loyal soldiers upon the task of systematically ridding the land of all members of the Sanjo clan. Very soon just a single branch of the family remains, removed from the usurper’s sphere of influence and living peacefully in a quiet village on the outskirts of the dominion. As the forces of evil surround the village, three samurai teenagers must conceal their identities and flee. SAMURAI’S BLOOD will follow their trail in the following issues and reveal what fate has in store - - vengeance or death.
“All things good and evil are under the way. Even betrayal is but a ripple through the weave of human destiny.”
The scenes where soldiers surround the village as seen from afar in one panel and then from overhead in the main panel are picture perfect in their use of depth and dimension. The following fight scenes with a one-man standoff (this occurs twice, with two different participants) are both delightful and sorrowful (because of the outcome) to behold.
“Look for destiny and it does not exist. Focus your mind on living, and destiny will disappear.”
Quickly the three teenagers adapt to the abrupt changes in their lives and set their course. The brother and sister have an understanding that begins with the brother’s acceptance that his best friend has become her lover. The best friend immediately falls into his role of samurai to the brother, and sets about his first order to see to the safety of the two remaining Sanjo clan members.
There is now BLOOD on my hands, and I cannot get it off. Nor do I want to.