REVIEW: The 7th Sword Vol. 1 – Ronin vs. Robots

Writer: John Raffo
Layouts: Douglas A. Sirios, Matthew Humphreys, Kevin Altieri
Pencils and Inks: Nelson Blake II, Nuriman, Douglas A. Sirios
Colors: Douglas A. Sirios, Dave McCaig
Letters: Troy Peteri
Design: Steve Blackwell
Editing: Renae Geerlings, Sarah Gaydos
Cover Art: Andrew Robinson
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 04/15/2015

A sci-fi retelling of a classic story, The 7th Sword is set on a distant colonized planet where gunpowder is simply not a resource that exists. This breeds the necessity for a weapon that does not use ammunition, and necessity leads to the Malathane; a composite blade sharp enough to theoretically slice through any material. Add in a populace in constant turmoil, advanced science fiction robotics, and classic samurai references and imagery, and you have the recipe for The 7th Sword.

The 7th Sword is a solid comic book. It can be described no other way than that. The story is, by the author’s own admission, not designed to be the most original. It is a re-take, a twist on a well-known tale. The primary character is one you’ve met before. He is a gruff, jaded, experienced killer trying to move on from his bloody past. As with most of these stories, an incident throws him into a situation where a populace reluctant to trust him needs his help, help that he is equally reluctant to provide. There is a situation where he must make a moral decision to risk his own neck to save a group of people that he barely knows, or run away. There is a young woman who wants to see the good in him. It is, at its core, a story that has been repeated often. But still, it is done well.

The setting, similarly, while bearing original factors, is also somewhat formulaic. Inhospitable planet, martial law, human colonists using a contrasting mixture of archaic and hyper advanced technology: it has been done in other ways before. This is not to say that the setting itself was not interesting. It is obvious that care was put into building this world. Unfortunately, I still found it highly comparable to things that I have read or watched before. Specifically, Trigun came to mind while reading it.

Last but not least, the art and coloring in the comic is well done. Like the story and setting, it is not breaking any molds or venturing anywhere near the realm of “experimental,” but it is easy on the eyes and I found no scene that felt specifically awkward or poorly put together. The style is typical for Western comics, and the lines and colors are crisp and clean.

In summation, I will repeat. This comic is “solid.” It did not venture far off of the beaten path, but while I would say it is “predictable,” I would not go so far as to say that it is “clichéd.” It is an enjoyable, light read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something in the genre. However, it is not something I would write home about.

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