Thursday, 13 November 2008

‘Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume One: The Assassin’s Road’ – Kazuko Koike & Goseki Kojima (Dark Horse Manga)


‘Yet history tells that in 1655, the year of Meireki, the Ogami Clan vanished completely, and the Yagyu Clan also assumed the post of Kaishakunin. And then, in 1681, in the first year of Tenna, at the changing of its leadership, the Yagyu Clan, too, comes to an end...
Assassin and Executioner! This story, ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ is one answer to this mystery.’


My wife is slowly coming round to the idea that I’m an unrepentant geek at heart and, every so often, I’ll get back from work to find little ‘geek gifts’ for me to enjoy. Sometimes this doesn’t work (‘The Case of the Bloody Iris’ and ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ on DVD are two cases in point, more on that another time maybe...) but more often than not it does. The other day, I came home to find the first two volumes of ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ waiting for me. Having just finished ‘The Assassin’s Road’ I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself collecting the rest of the series and considering that the series comprises twenty eight books... my wife may have cause to regret starting me off with this one (my books are starting to take over the house...)!

An assassin and his son walk the land of ‘Edo Period’ Japan, offering themselves for hire to anyone who can match their price. The first few chapters set the scene by showing just how good our assassin is. No-one is able to match him in terms of prowess with the blade and he has an uncanny ability to second guess but the question soon arises as to why he is willing to constantly place his son in mortal danger. The answer is gradually revealed as the story progresses, our assassin seeks revenge and his three year old son ‘chose’ to join him in his journey...

‘The Assassin’s Road’ is an introductory piece and, as such, suffers slightly from repetition as certain themes are established. As the story itself comes to the fore though, things start to get very interesting indeed as we learn more about the assassin’s motivations and just what his eventual aim might be... I’ve got the next book waiting to be read but, like I said, I can see myself buying more as this looks like a tale worth following.

Like the story, Goseki Kojima’s artwork felt overly simplistic to begin with but this appearance soon proved to be deceptive. There is more to each scene than you think and Kojima is able to bring out so much facial expression using simple line drawing. I loved the use of shading as well, both in the landscape and when it is used in either ‘Samurai face-offs’ or to show the journey in progress.

Koike and Kojima combine to present an opening instalment that is both gripping and evocative in it’s depiction of Edo Period Japan. I’ll admit to not knowing anything about the period but was certainly left with a strong feeling of what it could be like...
I’m looking forward to reading more....

Eight and a Half out of Ten

5 comments:

Michael said...

If you like Lone Wolfe and Cub you should seriously consider watching the movie adaptations "Baby Cart". 6 movies I think, some of which are truly great. Some of the dialogs ("if you choose the sword, you will join me, if you choose the bottle, you will join your mother in death...") have inspired legendary rap group Wu Tang Clan.

Hagelrat said...

I rememer the movie adaptions, years since i've seen them but they were really good.

Liz said...

I bought these for myself, much to Mark's amazement and absolutely loved them - in complete awe of the artwork. So pleased you like 'em!

ediFanoB said...

That's crazy.
I wasn't a fan of comics, graphic novels and mangas since some months ago I read about SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman. FinallyI ordered "Preludes and Nocturnes".
At this time I started to change my mind.
Two weeks ago I watched "WATCHMEN" trailer in cinema. I was fascinated and this evening I couldn't resist any longer and ordered WATCHMEN by Alan Moore.
And now I just read your post about LONE WOLF AND CLUB.
I think I have to read this series too.
It's great. I'm 49and discover still so many interesting things.

Greame, thank you for this review!!

wendy said...

edifanob ...

The teaser trailer for Watchmen was good. But, I was surprised to be seeing it so early ... it's not out until June next year in the UK!

And, quite a lot of us Manga readers have discovered it in our forties ;o)

Graeme ...

Thanks for that review. Another Manga series to try. My favs are still BLEACH and DEATH NOTE ... Bleach is massively long and ongoing, but Death Note is only 12 so a bit more affordable.