47 Ronin

Mike Richardson
Stan Sakai
Cover Artist:
Stan Sakai
Dark Horse
To make a confession, upon viewing the cover
for this comic, I hadn’t high hopes for it. Despite it being based on a famous
Japanese legend with art provided by a modern legend of comics, Stan Sakai, 47
Ronin looked amateurish and just a little bit like a rush job.
I’m glad to say that I didn’t judge the
comic by its cover (that and I fear the bosses’ wrath for not reading it :p).
It was just a poor cover, for inside Sakai’s usual high standard of work comes
to the fore, producing simple but elegant pages that bely just how hard it is
to maintain such a steady standard through a long career.
The story of a samurai who is disgraced and
tricked into seppuku (ritualised suicide that was considered honourable) due to
corrupt politicians and his faithful servant who tries to avenge him, as told
by said servant to a monk, its a slow paced story that takes time to unwind.
The first two issues cover the opening chapters of the tale, whilst providing
some commentary to explain elements that may otherwise fly over the average
readers head.
What is nice though is that to those who
haven’t heard of the tale before probably won’t be able to guess what direction
the story is heading, a welcome change to most limited series, which you can
figure out exactly what will happen by the mid point of the first issue.
In the end, there’s not much to say about 47
. It’s certainly well crafted and that in itself shows admirable
qualities. It isn’t flashy and certainly doesn’t attempt to entice the audience
in with anything other than good solid storytelling. That’s something to be said
in the current comic book world, where every minor character has to have a
tragic backstory and be involved in, at least, three world saving events
to be considered worth our interest.
I just think that perhaps I’m the wrong
audience. It’s clearly a tale from another age, where the villains are cackling
schemers, the good people wise and noble and the women not heard from unless
relevant to the plot in some way that affects the male characters.
That in itself isn’t a crime and it
certainly doesn’t mark it out as a bad comic per say. I just wish that
perhaps the writer could have been a bit more liberal with his retelling of the
story to at least add a few moral grey areas to proceedings.But then that does
seem to be the aim of the comic, so perhaps I’m just asking it to do something
I shouldn’t expect of it.
As faithful adaptations go (bearing in mind
my knowledge of Japanese culture is pretty much fug all) it achieves that well.
So if that’s your thing, or else you’ve always wanted a gateway into Japanese
history as those big textbooks have been putting you off? Give this a go.

Reece Morris-Jones will one day
understand Japanese folklore. Just give him a chance to learn his own countries
first. To clue him up, talk to him on Twitter @reecemjones

Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.

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