Review - Bushido: The Way of the Warrior #1

"Loyalty. Honor. Respect. Honesty. Benevolence. Rectitude. Courage."

Samurai thrive on honor. Family thrives on respect. Blending the two more often than not makes for interesting stories and Top Cow has such a story in Bushido: The Way of the Warrior #1.

The issue is written by Rob Levin, illustrated by Jessada Sutthi and lettered by Troy Peteri.

Kichiro is an orphaned pirate of sorts, losing his parents in a vicious attack on his ship that left him stranded ashore with no clue as to where he was. Fortunate for him, a wise samurai named Isamu came along and took Kichiro under his wing, training him alongside his real son Orochi. Orochi is poised to become the next Shogun through marrying the current ruler's daughter Mitsuko, who has an interesting past with Isamu. Enter sibling jealousy and banishment, all of which makes Kichiro's return to save the shogun ill-advised and devastating to Orochi.

As far as story goes, Levin's work follows the tried and true formula that reads like a Shakespearian tragedy. There's natural animosity between Orochi and Kichiro, primarily because the two are fighting for the affections of Isamu. The thing is, Kichiro isn't so much vying for affection as he simply appreciates the love. Orochi perceives Kichiro as a threat to his legacy, mainly because he's not a true member of the family. The added intrigue of the attempt on the Shogun's life further complicates the relationship of the two brothers, which will make for an interesting story down the road.

Sutthi's art doesn't really evoke images of feudal Japan. Characters get the focus of the book and settings aren't really elaborated on, providing little in the way of context for the story. There's also an overwhelming darkness to the art that makes some of the fight scenes difficult to figure out what's going on. The characters are depicted with effective samurai looks, which does help to carry the samurai theme throughout the book. There's some interesting lighting effects used to differentiate various scenes of the book that helps the reader follow along with the story.

Bushido: The Way of the Warrior #1 isn't exactly a new story, but the creative team manages to offer up a work of potential interest. Kichiro's tale is one of constant sorrow and matters have only been made worse, further complicating the relationship with Orochi. His ascension to the role of Shogun is still on track at the end of the first issue, but other stories have been set in motion. The concept of bushido is on full display in the issue, despite some of its shortcomings as a familiar story.

Bushido: The Way of the Warrior #1 is in stores October 2.