March 4, 2011

Marvel Reviews: 5 Ronin #1

5 Ronin #1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Tomm Coker
Cover: David Aja

“The Way of the One”: Honestly, this was a series that I wasn’t going to even look at beyond David Aja’s fantastic covers. Though after lying on the couch sick this past week, I ended up watching a lot of Samurai based anime and movies, so I took that as a sign and decided to at least give the first issue a try. The only thing that I actually knew about the 5 Ronin mini-series was that Wolverine, Deadpool, Psylocke, Hulk, and Punisher are ronin samurai, and each issue would focus on a particular character.

The first issue takes us to the year 1600, and during a battle Wolverine’s master has been killed and he’s now a ronin samurai roaming the countryside. What is also traveling the countryside are stories about a samurai who can’t die, which may seem to fit what we already know about Logan. However, Peter Milligan has a few surprises in store for the reader as he brings much more to the story than what I was expecting. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen Logan in this role many times over the years, but I will say that there is definitely an original twist here. The story itself is well paced and one that manages to be more of an emotional tale fueled by betrayal and revenge.

Coker’s artwork accomplished the visual storytelling needed to enhance Milligan’s script on just about every page. Actually, I’ll say that there were several pages where the words were very unnecessary. That’s no slight against Milligan’s skill as a writer, but just praise to the artist who is strong enough to tell the story within his panels just as clearly. Coker’s style along with Daniel Freedman’s colors just immerse you in the time period, and I’m glad that detail was put into backgrounds as much as focusing on the characters. From the calm scenes to the visceral fights between samurai, it’s one good looking book.

Now, I wasn’t sure if these stories would interconnect, but since Deadpool showed up in this issue, I’m going to assume they are. Which hopefully will make for a better series than a bunch of one-shots of the heroes in feudal Japan wandering around. For a series that held no interest for me, Peter Milligan definitely has drawn me into his 5 Ronin series. So if you’re interested in Wolverine, samurai, feudal Japan, and a good story, then I suggest you see what this issue is bringing to the table!

Till next time!

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Infinite Speech