One of the best things about writing reviews is finding a new comic to write about. I have no secret as to how I do it: sometimes what I review is recommended from my editor, or something that caught my eye while surfing online. While both of these avenues provide me with a very deep well of material, nothing replaces the comic shop. Yes, I spend my own hard-earned money to buy and read just about everything I write about. There is nothing quite like standing in front of the racks of comics looking for something new and entertaining.
This week’s review is no exception. I picked up Samurai from Titian Comics while at my LCS. When selecting comics to review, I tend to gravitate towards independent and small(er) publishers for one simple reason — Marvel and DC have enough press as it is. I like to think that if my review can turn at least one reader onto something new, instead of further lining the pockets of corporate giants, then I am writing with purpose.
Samurai is written by Jean-Francois Di Giorgio with art by Frederic Genet and David Mack. It is a French comic that was originally published in the states by Marvel, which might be why I over looked it in the past, but now they have switched over to Titian Comics. The series picks up on a new story arc after the publisher switch, and it’s a perfect time to get onboard.
First off, if you, like me, are a fan of the samurai genre and the wandering ronin, then you will love this book. I was first blown away by the art. Genet and Mack’s work pulls you in and makes you feel like you’re really there. The environment is rendered so well that a historian would feel at home reading this story. From the shoes to the furniture, to the cups and bowls, everything seems authentic. In addition to this Gent and Mack render breathtaking wide-angle shots of the world in which the story is taking place. This is one of those books that you take extra time with to enjoy the amazing art.
The story itself picks up where the Marvel books left off, but it is presented in a way that you will not be lost. Samurai, as a narrative, is not hitting on anything terribly new as far as characters go. There are your standard archetypes but that is what you want in a story like this. In a western, for instance, you know that the gunslinger can quickdraw and gun down bad guys in a blink of an eye, but you read it to see the twists and the turns that make story original. That’s the same formula used in these wandering samurai stories, and this story does not disappoint.
I can be pretty tough on creators and the work that they do. I try to be fair and honest in my criticism. There are many comics that I read to review and then never buy again, but that is not the case with Samurai. This book instantly went to my must-get list; I called up my comic shop and added it to my pull list right after reading it.
Do yourself a favor and get this book. If you are a fan of the wandering ronin or feudal Japan, this is a must for you. If you are a fan of beautiful art, then look no further. If you enjoy a good story with twists and turns to keep you entertained, it has arrived. Now I’m on a hunt to get those back issues, and I’m sure you will be too.