Review - Shotgun Shogun #1

"A strong will can get you through a bad situation."

Ever wonder what would happen if you dropped a samurai warrior in the wild west? Would he take to saloons or seek out less rowdy environs? Shotgun Shogun #1 is a new book that presents an interesting tale of a shogun forced into duty in the wild west.

The issue is written by Eric Wilder, illustrated by Tim Hall and colored by Hall and Wilder.

Norio is a Samurai for the Shogunate of Japan. He's made his way to the wild west of the US, where he blends an ability to wield a katana with a knack for brandishing a shotgun. In cutting his way through a town, he takes out some individuals that apparently have friends in high places. He awakens Joaquin de la Muerte, a swordsman who appears to be as adept at swordplay as Norio is, setting the stage for a pending shogun showdown.

While heavy on the narration, Wilder's tale is an interesting anachronism of sorts. Norio is sufficiently skilled as a swordsman, despite being out of place in the wild west landscape. The book strives to be a western, but it ends up being a tad more straightforward than that. There are the stereotypical staples of a western, including saloons, shootouts, blacksmiths and general lawlessness, all of which help to carry the story along. The inevitable confrontation between Norio and Joaquin could be devastating if handled correctly.

Hall's art is very rigid and gritty. It's unapologetically violent in a very coarse way, readily offering up beheadings, blood wounds and stabbings. There are some panels that tend to stand out better than others, with what appears to be a slight art shift most of the way through the comic. It's possible this was intentional as it coincided with the introduction of Joaquin, but it is slightly jarring. The western town setting is very believable and succeeds in placing the reader fully into the world they're reading.

If the next (and subsequent) issue evens out a bit and explains more of the story, Shotgun Shogun #1 could be the start of a really fascinating series. Norio is very good at what he does, but exactly he does it remains a mystery. There's clearly a lot of story that can be mined regarding his past and future; hopefully, pitting him against Joaquin isn't the entire end game of the series. Still, the first issue is very interesting and features some solid art and a decent story to start.

Shotgun Shogun #1 is available via comixology now.