Summary: Three Ring Samurai takes a tried and true trope and puts it into a new and unique setting. “A mysterious bad-ass awakens after some traumatic event among an unsuspecting group of civilians.” This set up is an action movie staple, but Three Ring Samurai injects the character in a raucous (post apocalyptic?) wasteland of colorful characters and factions, blended influences, and depraved humor. The primary character, Pookie, comes around to find that a family has been tending to his egregious wounds while he was out. Still barely able to walk, he sets out to recover his belongings -including his sword -from a family of bandits nearby. It is then that we get our first taste of what Pookie is capable of, before he embarks on his solo journey.
Story: While, as I said, the set up for Three Ring Samurai is somewhat cliche, I found the setting and the characters refreshing enough to overlook it. There is enough originality here to compensate for the overused foundation, and the hints and tidbits released so far regarding the Circus and various factions is very enticing. The humor in this work is based on shock-value, so if that’s not your cup of tea, stay clear. I found it somewhat enjoyable in places, but at other times, I found it forced or obvious. Humor in comics is a challenge that often-times takes some getting used to and I hope to continue to see it improve in this title’s future.
Art: Three Ring Samurai straddles a fine-line in the art department. On the plus side, the pages are full-size, not strips, and are frankly at the top-tier of what I’d expect out of a webcomic. There are moments that you can tell the artist takes his time and excels, packing in neat detail. This is especially evident in scenery, more so than characters. However, it is not quite what I’d want to see out of a printed work. There is still room for improvement when it comes to people and poses. There are webcomics that I can’t read due to the art quality, and this is not one of them by any stretch, but there’s room to grow before the art reaches a point where occasional scenes don’t take away from the reading experience.
Conclusion: Regardless of any critiques, I have to give props to any webcomic that takes a serious approach to both art and storytelling. If you like gritty action comics then check out Three Ring Samurai. I’ll be keeping an eye on it myself, and it’s free! What do you have to lose?