47 Ronin #5 (Dark Horse)


Rating: 5/5 – Wonderful re-telling of Japan’s National legend

I was riveted by each issue of this 5-issue series as Mike Richardson laid out his re-telling of the Japanese legend that embodies the samurai code of honor Bushidō (literally “the way of the warrior”).  The art by Stan Sakai (best know for his rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo) shows that he is not constrained to anthropomorphics and can tell a story with humans just as deftly as he turns out pages with Usagi.

The story is well-known in Japan, a feudal lord is wrongly compelled to commit ritual suicide after an incident with a court official that he was goaded into.  His loyal retainers spend years planning and then exacting vengeance for their wronged lord.  This is the story in it’s broadest strokes, if you are unfamiliar with it, I urge you to see out this 5 issue mini-series, or wait a couple of months and pick up the trade paperback version that will no doubt be coming shortly.

The storytelling is simple but elegant, we get the culmination of the past 4 issues as the loyal retainer finally assault Kira’s home and seek out the man who wronged their master.  Without spoiling the story for those who are not familiar with it, the aftermath of the revenge is the heart and soul of the story.  The final fate of the loyal 47 and how they accept that fate is a key illustration of the core difference between the western and Japanese senses of honor.  Highly recommended!

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – bob@comicspectrum.com
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