Toshiro is a strange and creepy paranormal tale set in Manchester, England, during the year 1867, shortly after the American Civil War. While a supernatural gore fest is nothing new from Dark Horse, Toshiro sets itself apart by adding a dash of Steampunk to its main character: a self aware, steam-powered, mechanized soldier named Toshiro . . . who just happens to be a samurai. With the dead rising around him, a sudden psychological change appearing in his partner, and the appearance of a mysterious supernatural creature known as “The Jellyfish,” it is Toshiro’s sworn duty to protect those he can while finding a way to restore the natural order before chaos spreads.
One of the most appealing things about Toshiro as a whole is the artwork. Artist Janusz Pawlak has a style that is very heavy on its black placement, giving the pages a rich sense of darkness and suspense, which I often love about supernatural-based comics. While the art, at times, can be somewhat static, Pawlak makes up for it in spades when it counts. The action scenes and violence depicted provide a wonderful balance between the gore we once saw in Tony Moore’s run on The Walking Dead and the bold ink work we’ve grown accustomed to from series like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. On that note, Toshiro does a phenomenal job conveying mood though color. It has a very muted, almost water color-esque palette that is only intensified when Pawlak introduces the bright purples and reds of paranormal entities and splurts of blood. Combined with the black placement, the colors alone made me want to pick up and read this book.
I’ve gone and gushed all over the artwork, so I should take a little time to talk about story. Toshiro seems to be trying to hit a lot of different markets in one go, which can work out for the best when it’s executed correctly. For me, I felt like it was too much. I thought each of the aspects (the paranormal happenings, the sentient robotic samurai, and Steampunk England) were all well done in their own right, but, as a whole, I felt a little scatterbrained while reading it. That being said, I want to read more Toshiro. I found him to be an interesting character to follow, and I feel like he could become the next Hellboy. Could we get a team up, Dark Horse? Huh? Yeah?
All in all, Toshiro is well worth the pick up if you enjoy Hellboy, B.P.R.D, and Rocketeer. It’s got a lot going on, but if you can look past that, it’s a cool premise with some killer art. I really hope to see more tales of Toshiro in the future.