Review: Ronin Island #3

Island, by Greg Pak (Mech Cadet Yu, Astonishing X-Men) and Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues, Large Mobile Gun Force) and published by Boom Studios, is an interesting tale that combines elements of horror and traditional adventure in a Feudal Japan setting.

This issue picks up after a failed attack by Sato, a military commander in the service of the Shogun of Japan.  Sent to Ronin Island to claim the island in his name and bring it under his domain, Sato and his armies were beaten back and ultimately exterminated, for all intents and purposes, in the fight with the islanders and a subsequent fight against the Byonin.  These shambling elemental zombies have a nebulous origin that promises to feature in the series going forward.  Having failed in his task to subjugate the island, Sato and his five remaining samurai intend to return to the Shogun.  Although they must report their failure, they are more concerned with reporting the danger of the Byonin.  Seeing that the danger of the Byonin makes them allies, several of the islanders resolve to join Sato in his journey while eliciting a promise from the military commander that he will plead their case to the Shogun when the real danger has been defeated.  During the three day journey to find the Shogun, the group also encounter the remains of victims of “The Great Wind”.  This wind struck some thirty years ago and yet these remains still exhibit signs of the attack, sprouting fungus and mushrooms as a result of being exposed to the wind.  Given the nebulous nature of the Byonin, it will be interesting to see if “The Great Wind” figures into their origin.  Ultimately, the group find the Shogun and the Shogun’s reaction to their arrival is the backdrop for the next issue as this one ends.

Pak presents an interesting tale with some intriguing elements teasing the reader as to the nature of the story to come.  The dialogue between the disparate members of the group runs the gamut from natural to forced.  However, the end of the issue felt forced with painfully strained dialogue.  This corresponds directly to when the Shogun and his contingent enter the story.  The Shogun is written as a self assured fool who bumbles his way through life while wielding unimaginable power.  However, instead of giving off an aura of incompetent danger, he instead is characterized as a force of schizophrenic chaos.  This caricature falls flat.

The artwork is simple but forthright, adequately conveying the story and brilliantly supplemented by a beautiful color palette that evokes images of Japanese water colors.  The art style is reminiscent of the Yamatoe-e style of painting, interpreted in a modern medium.  The simple faces and bold lines with minimal inking further that illusion and evoke images of a manga that has sprung fully formed from a traditional Japanese painting.  Because of the nature of the artwork, it lacks a certain dynamism and depth that you would find in a more traditionally drawn comic.  However, what the artwork lacks in traditional comic styling is counter balanced by the visuals that are presented.

This was an intriguing comic that was pleasant to read and look at.  It was an interesting read and a comic I will continue to watch.

Writing – 3 of 5 Stars
Pencils – 4.5 of 5 Stars
Inking – 3 of 5 Stars
Color – 4.5 of 5 Stars

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Writing – Greg Pak
Art – Giannis Milonogiannis
Colors – Mila Kniivila
Letters – Simon Bowland