Friday, 19 December 2008
‘Lone Wolf and Cub, Volume Two: The Gateless Barrier’ – Kazuko Koike & Goseki Kojima (Dark Horse Manga)
Back in November I read the first volume of Koike and Kojima’s ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ series. To say that I was impressed was an understatement, I seem to remember saying that this was a series I’d be diving straight into but it’s now the middle of December and I’ve only just got round to picking up volume two... What can I say?
Anyway, once I remembered that I had ‘The Gateless Barrier’ waiting to be read I picked it up and got into it straight away...
The repetitive nature of ‘The Assassin’s Road’ continues, for the most part, in ‘The Gateless Barrier’ with our assassin hero (and his son) walking the land and taking on jobs that will get them one step closer to whatever the mission is that Lone Wolf talks of. It is very much a case of ‘dispense justice, move on to next town and dispense justice...’ but this is balanced out by the nature of each contract and the ways in which Lone Wolf achieves his goals. Some of the planning that went into what ultimately transpires at the prison has to be seen to be believed and adds to the mystique of Lone Wolf’s ‘unstoppable killer’ reputation.
Kojima’s artwork is now a little easier on the eye (as far as I’m concerned) and is testament to black and white artwork being just as effective, maybe even more so, than art done in colour. The fight scenes certainly don’t suffer for being black and white (and isn’t any good fight sequence a black and white issue?) and the shading on some of the scenery is stunning.
Although we still don’t find out much about Lone Wolf’s mission (other than that he is on one...), during the course of ‘The Gateless Barrier’, we do get to find out a lot about the man himself and not only what he is capable of but some of the things that influence his decisions. He offered his child, Daigoro, the opportunity to join his mother in death (and would have killed Daigoro himself) but is very much a father who looks out for the safety of his son and will stop at nothing to protect him. Except where Daigoro chooses his own path, and must reap the consequences, that is...
Ogami (Lone Wolf) also undergoes a spiritual journey, at one point, which again demonstrates his commitment to his cause as well as decorating the background with a taste of Japanese mysticism, adding a new flavour to the tale.
My ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ journey ends here for now, at least until I can pick more of these books up. That should, hopefully, be very soon as this is a series that is demanding I continue...
Nine out of Ten