Review - 47 Ronin #2

Samurai are nothing if not honorable. What values they honor are dependent on the actual samurai. Some value honor, while others honor immorality. 47 Ronin #2 from Dark Horse Comics is the second chapter in a mini-series that looks at both.

The issue is written by Mike Richardson, with art by Stan Sakai, colors by Lovern Kindzierski and letters by Tom Orzechowski and Louis Buhalis.

Lord Asano is in a tight spot. He was goaded into an "assault" by a corrupt court official in the Shogun's palace, an act punishable by death through seppuku. That in and of itself is enough to rile up the Asano household, but when it comes to light that Lord Asano was sentenced without a proper investigation, his retainers seek to extract revenge on the official who got him killed.

Richardson really crashes through the second issue. The magnitude of events that transpire seem a little hurried in a sense, but obviously they had to happen in order for the grander plot to unfold. This isn't a knock on Richardson's writing or pacing, as both are phenomenal in the second issue (much like the first).

Really, it's more of just a shock with what happens to Lord Asano. As a reader, you're pulling for him to emerge victorious against the blatantly corrupt official, but this is a feudal Japan and honor has a way of being meted out unfairly at times. Richardson humanizes the story very well, making it feel authentic and like a genuine recounting of an event.

Sakai's art is understated but effective. He doesn't rely on an excess of detail, instead relying on relatively simple lines for the art. There's a clean, old-school feel to the art that helps set the time and place for the tale. The panel layout is very rigid and allows for easy immersion into the saga, making sure the reader understands fully what's at stake.

The second issue of 47 Ronin continues right where the first left off: an incredibly fast-paced tale steeped in Japanese tradition. To be sure, there's a lot in here referencing the Samurai way, but the story is so accessible that you don't have to be a scholar to follow what's going on. It's a well-told story that can be picked up by just about anyone.

47 Ronin #2 is in stores now with interiors below.