Class hierarchy, social status, racial discrimination, and sexual discrimination are all themes being handled deftly in Greg Pak and Giannis Milonogiannis’ Ronin Island.
After the fall of the Shogun, several different communities banded together on an island, and the village that spawned became more progressive than the culture had previously known, although not altogether free of these social constructs. In the village, a wealthy young man, Kanichi, born of a noble Samurai family has something to prove. He wants to be the best, because of who his father was. On the other hand, Hana, a poor, Korean farm girl, equal to Kanichi in every way, also has something to prove; you don’t need the bells and whistles of Kanichi’s life to prove yourself worthy.
From page one, the two characters have been at each other’s throats. Kanichi is brash and unwise, whereas Hana is contemplative and wise. On the day of their passage into adulthood, they were met with two conflicts not of their island: A new Shogunate showed up to bring them under their control and an army of rock people attacked. The Shogunate’s forces were led by General Sato. He was firm in his resolve to bring the village under the allegiance of the Shogunate, and even though the village didn’t want that, they were forced to work together as the Byonīn attacked.
This series could very easily have become an adventure to beat the monsters, but it’s proving to be a lot smarter than that. Pak and Milonogiannis are using these outer forces to test the inner characters of Hana and Kanichi. In this third issue, the conflicts allow them to act and fall prey to their natures. The final twist in this issue, instead of amplifying the conflict with the enemy, amplifies the conflict between the characters. It’s easily my favorite issue so far which means the previous two issues have done a tremendous job of balancing and juggling all of the aspects of the series.
If you’re looking for something both fun and thoughtful to read, Ronin Island is turning out to be a winner.
Creative Team: Greg Pak (writer), Giannis Milonogiannis (artist), Irma Kniivila (colors), Simon Bowland (letters), Cameron Chittock (editor), Amanda Lafranco (assistant editor)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.