Greg Pak and Giannis Milonogiannis have something on their mind, which makes their collaboration on Ronin Island that much more successful. Set after the fall of the Shogun, Japan and its surrounding countries have fallen into a sort of post-apocalyptic scenario that we’re just starting to get a handle on.
Our two heroes, Kanichi and Hana, are of the age to become warriors and have lived their entire lives protected on an island, a place where people of different ethnicities and social statuses have come together to build a community and protect one another from the outside world. This is thrown into chaos when a new shogunate has risen from the ashes alongside a new monstrosity called the Byonīn which are rock-like zombies. Kanichi and Hana leave the island to fight with the Shogunate. Kanichi is against it, but Hana is willing to help…for now.
You see, Kanichi and Hana don’t get along. Kanichi is the son of a wealthy samurai, and Hana is the daughter of a poor Korean farmer. There is a racial and social wall between them, but they didn’t put it there. As we see in issue 5, it was taught. This is an important beat to have in a story for young adults.
Now, with Kanichi and Hana separated, they each have different obstacles to surmount. Hana is faced with a difficult dilemma concerning the new Shogunate, and Kanichi has stumbled into a situation that may put his island village in great danger.
This is a tremendous and thoughtful adventure, with characters that are able to change based on the circumstances they are presented with. I can’t wait to see where their decisions lead them over the next several issues.
I’m a fan of samurai stories and zombie stories, and Milonogiannis and Kniivila have captured a sort of The Last Airbender vibe here, bringing the two worlds together. The characters spring to life, the action is enjoyable, the landscapes are beautiful, and they have a strong cinematic sensibility that drives us forward.
There is a great deal to be admired here.
Creative Team: Greg Pak (writer), Giannis Milonogiannis (artist), Irma Kniivila (colors), Simon Bowland (letters), Cameron Chittock (editor), Amanda Lafranco (assistant editor)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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