Ronin Island #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letters: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Boom! Studios

A review by Brendan Hykes

What’s better than a classic samurai tale? How about a classic samurai tale told in a comic? With some classic manga style art? And a few exciting twists and turns? Welcome to Ronin Island.

Ronin Island is set on, you guessed it, an island. The time period is not specified, other than being set thirty years after the Great Wind, an unspecified calamity. The issue begins with a competition between two students on their graduation day, to see who will be named top of their class. Kenichi is heir to one of the island’s founders, while Hana is a poor Korean girl who lives in a shack. While the islanders know Kenichi and respect his lineage, some of the farmers show support for Hana. Graduation day is cut short by an attack from the sea, however, and the second half of the book takes a more serious turn.

There’s a lot to like about this story. Writer Greg Pak manages to build a rich setting and populate it with interesting characters very quickly. He leans on classic samurai story elements aptly, and weaves them into a story that takes a few exciting turns throughout the course of this first issue. His storytelling is full-bodied and gets a lot done in short amount of space, giving him the opportunity to build more and more of the story, leading to an explosive ending.

Artist Giannis Milonogiannis does a wonderful job of taking a classic manga style and making it feel modern, while maintaining the most fun elements. There’s some fantastic body language and facial expressions on display here. The backgrounds are beautiful. The action shifts from whimsical to intense as the story demands. Irma Kniivila’s colors do an excellent job of maintain the tone of the story as well.

VERDICT: Buy it!

This is an excellent first issue, building a solid foundation for an exciting story in a classic style. And the surprise ending will have you excited for the next issue.

Brendan Hykes
brendanhykes@gmail.com
Brendan is a writer, father and lifelong Pittsburgher. Also weirdly obsessed with puzzles.

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