PREVIEWS: What’s new for Wednesday, August 17, 2011?

SAMURAI’S BLOOD  #3 of 6  (Image Comics/Benaroya Publishing)  Owen Wiseman, story. Nam Kim, Matthew Dalton & Jessica Kholinne, art.  Jo Chen, cover.

With Issue #3, Owen Wiseman and SAMURAI’S BLOOD takes its place upon the winner’s platform of my favorite comics featuring feudal Japanese literature along with such greats as Ron Marz (both SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH and THE PATH), Chuck Dixon and THE WAY OF THE DRAGON, and Kazuo Koike’s LONE WOLF AND CUB.  Before he concludes the story of SAMURAI’S BLOOD, Wiseman may very well ascend to the top and gold medal status.


Issue #3 devotes almost the entire issue to recounting what has happened to Mayuko since her capture and subsequent forced tutoring in the art of the oiron girls (similar to a geisha) --  slaves to a life of compliance, servitude, and submission - - instructed to give in to the lustful desires of lords and soldiers while being treated as the lowest level of common whores/prostitutes.

The gorgeous cover to Issue #3 hints at the disturbing story inside.  A lovingly adorned Mayuko in her oiron make-up and gown is front and center, a solitary tear running down the side of her face to indicate her grief, is beautifully depicted in vivid color. In the background in perfect shades of gray and umber are multitudes of leering lords, their ravage intentions written on their faces.

As in previous issues, Wiseman mixes in plenty of Japanese feudal wisdom and samurai lore in the captions and lets the action in the story illustrate the points he is making.  The art team is superb and knows exactly how to depict what Wiseman wishes to impart, yet another reason to pick up and relish this book.

Issue #3 is a perfect introduction to SAMURAI’S BLOOD for the curious who may have missed previous issues.  It’s a stand alone tale that is extremely powerful.  Even though I knew what was about to happen and the end result the story was so well written and drawn that it made me very sad once I got to the end.  It’s hard to imagine anyone reading this story and not being moved by the events.

Along with the chunks of samurai wisdom and learning, Wiseman centers the story around the major concept of suffering in various forms and its consequences.  He defines the “four levels of suffering in the world” and uses the story as example as Mayuko experiences all four while trying to remain steadfast to her samurai code of patience,  draw energy reserves from suffering, never hesitate at opportunity, and wait and wait and wait for the moment of fate.

The four levels of suffering Mayuko experiences are 1) Witness the pain of an innocent.  2) Cause the pain of an innocent.  3) To have pain imposed on one’s self by another, and 4) The pain we cause ourselves. Each level leaves a mark and works on her resolve.  Very, very powerful stuff here.   This may be the best single issue story I have read this year.


CAPTAIN AMERICA #2  and DAREDEVIL #2  (Marvel):  Brubaker and Waid serve up familiar but fresh new takes on classic  characters.  Buy them now or wait for the eventual trade paperback edition.  I sampled Issue #1 and would love to read the first story arcs at one sitting.  Now, do I have the patience to wait?  Give in now if you have to - -  I know I might.

DAMAGED #1  (Radical):  The remarkable David Lapham writes a gritty crime/mystery surrounding two brothers pursuing the same ends but through different methods.  Good cop, bad cop.  Movie rights have already been obtained.

FLASHPOINT: WONDER WOMAN & FURIES #3 of 3 (DC):  Can’t wait to see how this concludes.  This is one powerful, purposeful, angry and aggressive Wonder Woman.  Some will fall in love with her.

SUPERBOY #11  (DC):  Jeff Lemire is wrapping up his inventive story relating the mystery of old Smallville.  Not to be missed.  But I will miss this title after THE NEW 52 metamorphosis.

That’s it for this week - - a relatively short list.  Bust open that spare change jar and purchase these books - - and head to your local comics store.  Please make some independent owner smile.  We need to see somebody happy these days = Have you been following the news of the real world?


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