Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review - 4th Hanzo #1


"And the reasons why you left may not agree with why you came back."

Ninja carry with them great skill, resolve and kunai, among other things. All manage to make the ninja a complete and deadly assassin, including the big, bushy tail. Well, that's what a squirrel ninja keeps with him in 4th Hanzo #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Miguel C. Hernandez.

4th Hanzo's journey begins after he returns home from months of training in the forest. His village begins to suffer from multiple attacks by a group of ronin thugs. It is up to 4th Hanzo and his clan to stop them. Meanwhile, there are grander schemes being placed into motion that maybe not even 4th Hanzo can stop with all his talents.

Stories of ninja and samurai are pretty regular throughout history, but Hernandez manages to make things a little interesting by making the players squirrels and raccoons, among others. 4th Hanzo is a ninja squirrel who is looked upon by many as a more than capable fighter; someone that the others in his clan turn to in order to save them when things get a little rough. And 4th Hanzo isn't afraid to put his safety at risk in an effort to keep those around him safe. And the story itself does offer some openings to move in a generally positive direction, giving 4th Hanzo many more opponents who will seek to challenge his ability.

Hernandez also handles the illustrative duties, relying exclusively on black and white shades. Characters are depicted with extreme detail and sharp lines, prompting the characters to pretty literally cut the pages. 4th Hanzo #1 is also a book that's all about animals being personified as fellow ninja and samurai and those animals are shown effectively enough to trigger stereotypes in the reader's mind. The facial expressions also evidence the appropriate emotion for the situation, which is always impressive when an artist can present an animal doing that. The black and white panels also really work well with the story, which helps the overall tone of the book as well.

4th Hanzo #1 is a book dealing with pretty heady themes while offering relatively lighthearted dialogue and animals as the main characters. Hanzo is going through quite a bit of personal thoughts, primarily focused on his role as protector of his people and how they view him. He's got to contend with the expected riff-raffs, but there's a much larger situation brewing considering these animals inhabit a world with, you know, humans. The first issue is a solid read that actually goes by pretty quickly and shows that squirrels are really that fast.

4th Hanzo #1 is available now via Comixology.

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