Welcome back to another edition of Kabooooom’s comic review round-up! It’s a light load this week with only two reviews, but both books promise to either please or infuriate depending on your outlook. Matt got his hands on the first issue of Top Cow’s new Samurai book, Bushido, and Anne’s off again to that galaxy far, far away with Dark Horse’s The Star Wars #2.
BUSHIDO #1/ Written by ROB LEVIN/ Art by JESSADA SUTTHI/ Letters by TROY PETERI/ Published by TOP COW COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Japan. 1663. Marooned after his parents’ ship was attacked by vampires, a young man is adopted by the Japanese lord who discovers him washed up on the shore. Given the name Kichiro – “lucky one” – the boy is given special training with the sword. This greatly annoys the lord’s birth son, Orochi, despite the fact that as a gaijin – an outsider – Kichiro can never become a Samurai. Yet the fate of all Japan may rest on Kirchiro’s shoulders, as the vampires who claimed his birth family set their sights on the Empire of the Rising Sun.
Bushido is a collection of the worst stereotypes and inaccuracies of Western writing about Eastern culture. Ignoring the fact that Bushido was not officially codified until the 20th century and that there is little evidence that historical samurai adhered to any sort of code of conduct, there is still the troublesome conceit of a white man being the greatest swordsman in Edo Period Japan. Perhaps it is foolish to expect historical accuracy of a story that involves vampires trying to kill the Emperor of Japan. That still doesn’t excuse clichés like Kichiro’s true love being the emperor’s daughter and her being pledged to wed Orochi, who still hates his adopted brother despite having no real reason to be jealous other than to make him more villainous.
The artwork by Jessada Sutthi is far better than the story deserves. Gorgeously painted, the action sequences are also choreographed well and Sutthi has a gift for good facial expressions. That being said, there are some oddities in the artwork, like the young Kichiro looking more like a tween than a child young enough to have his first memory be that of his parents being killed by vampires.
Fans of the samurai genre may be able to ignore the cliché characters and story. So might action or vampire fans looking for a unique historical mash-up. Most readers, however, will not benefit from suffering through reading more of the same despite the excellent art.
THE STAR WARS #2/ Written by J.W. RINZLER/ Art by MIKE MAYHEW/ Colors by RAIN BEREDO/ Letters by MICHAEL HEISLER/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS
Review by ANNE MORTENSEN-AGNEW
In J.W. Rinzler’s The Star Wars #2, the Empire strikes Luke Skywalker’s rebel alliance, aloof dad Kane Starkiller exits the scene, and, finally, the Death Stark makes its first appearance. Like the previous issue, most of the appeal lies not in the merits of this script on its own, but in seeing beta test versions of Star Wars.
In that, the most appealing development is the appearance of R2D2 and C-3PO – the former of which actually speaks in this version! He also seems quite a bit more cowardly, which is a jarring picture for R2. Still, just their appearance can be enough to elicit vocal excitement. There is no word on when Han Solo and Chewbacca, or perhaps an amalgamation of the two, will show up, but fingers are crossed that it is soon. Mike Mayhew’s art is again terrific, working to recreate characters and concepts as familiar but also not (check out those proto-X Wings!). His facial expressions with Annikin are a strong point, conveying that he is a confused kid thrown into things that go way over his head. They’re a saving point for his character, especially given that the kid doesn’t get much in the way of dialogue or action.
The biggest drawback to the comic is once again the script, which is no fault of Rinzler’s. In fact, he probably does the best possible job with it. The issue is this is the roughest draft of Star Wars. It is not a masterpiece, and it was never meant to be. For Star Wars enthusiasts, that should again be enough to gain and keep interest. For the rest of the audience, it probably is not. The dialogue is still klunky, and there is just too much of nothing going on. General Skywalker appears to be the protagonist since he’s running the show, even though young Annikin is the more natural target. But while Skywalker goes around shouting and having to deal with tedious red tape, Annikin doesn’t do much of anything. Princess Leia is nothing like the woman she would become in the final product, now a semi-bratty student instead of a steely rebel leader. Annikin has to punch her out in order for her to come with him to the rebel base, which is just gross. They both share the same problem as Lord Vader – being boring, which could easily be fixed by actually taking action and doing something on their own instead of being directed, knocked out, or just standing around looking at holograms, respectively.
The next part teases the Rise of the Sith and General Skywalker taking matters into his own hands, so with any luck the story will pick up and this creative team will really be able to shine. Until then, use your discretion as a fan to decide whether or not to pick this issue up.