Saturday, March 31, 2012

Samurai's Blood

by Owen Wiseman and Michael Benaroya (creators), Owen Wiseman (script), Nam Kim (pencils), Matt Dalton (inks), Sakti Yuwono (colors), Josh Aitken (letters), Rob Prior (logo), and Jo Chen (covers), 185 pages

When the Sanjo clan is overthrown and nearly wiped out through the greed and betrayal of two of its own retainers, it's up to those who remain to make things right.

I picked this up because of the cover art and because I do enjoy a good samurai and sword story. Although I was disappointed that the story art was not as cool, attractive, and realistic as the covers (which are by a different person, as is often the way with serial comics from the big American publishers), I still enjoyed reading it.

I have not read nearly as many American comics as I have Japanese and Korean ones, so as I try to remedy that I find myself going through an adjustment period. I have to remind myself that the traditions of each are different and I can't judge them with quite the same scale. So just keep that in mind whenever you hear / read me grumbling about overly-beefy heroes, Botox-lipped heroines, and insides that don't match their outsides.

I loved Jo Chen's covers for the originally serially-published chapters (so much so that I Googled her and bookmarked her official website). Every time I flipped the page to start a new chapter and saw one, I'd try to hold that image of the characters in my head while I read the actual story. The digitally-colored interior art is very slick. While I like the well-used color palette and detailed backgrounds, I was less fond of the figure art. The pronounced chins, cheekbones, jaws, and noses (hallmarks of traditional American superhero comics), and the fact that many characters don't look the same from panel-to-panel, distracted me. Also, I thought the plot seemed like it skimmed over a few points that would have worked better (and would have given the reader more opportunity to get emotionally invested in the characters) had they been given a little more attention. And while the narration gets a little purple at times, it fits the melodrama of the story, so I didn't mind too much. Overall, this is a decent action / revenge drama that might have benefited from an additional couple of fleshing-out chapters along the way.

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