Return . . . to Rand-er . . . ad-dress unknown . . . no such number . . .
I love that song. Anyone . . . ? Ah well.
Return to Rander is a great mix of Eastern and Western, with a lone gun/swordman trying to recover his past while it’s bloodily catching up to him. The first three issues have been setting up an epic showdown between our unwilling hero and the masked butcher looking for his brother.
The world that Tony Sedani has set for us feels like it was pulled straight out of a spaghetti western or one of Kurosawa’s masterpieces. There’s life, but it’s muted and rough, seemingly waiting with hushed anticipation, trying to avoid the attention of anyone unsavory who might need to hurt something. The black-and-white color scheme never seems lacking, and the overall feel is of a waiting wasteland, where grass would grow green if it felt like it could get away with it. In this world anyone who steps out of line seems insane, and anyone who survives doing so is either amazing, or damn lucky, and luck tends to be in short supply.
Sedani plunks our hero into the middle of this world with his sometimes skull-faced partner to wheedle and push him along his journey. He has a singular focus to his course but cannot help but to tear apart the delicate social fabric he encounters, simply by refusing to let it affect him. Folks die having had only committed the sin of being where he had been, as the masked Matador punishes even those that end up helping him. By happenstance and fate, the two meet in this issue, and each has their score to settle. The old sheriff following behind retains our moral compass for us and reminds us that nothing we’ve seen has occurred in a vacuum, and people have paid the price for their actions.
As I read this issue, I kept wondering why Jack’s sword was wrong, because most of this book shares a spiritual connection to Gendy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack, until the fighting begins, and then there’s no mistaking the gore or the fate of anyone in this book for that matter. Placing our hero in the middle of situations he wants no part of yet cannot escape, we see him on the edge of every choice: follow his destiny or accept his consequences.
This is a great issue to wrap up the arc so far, and I would say that anyone who digs Samurai Jack, Cowboy Bebop, Seven Samurai, or Unforgiven will really enjoy this harsh world and the narrowing options it offers everyone caught in it.
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