I have to admit, it’s a really impressive decision to make a hot-headed brat of a character your main protagonist. At the beginning of the comic I found Keith to be a bit deplorable, even as a kid. Not that he’s a bad character, he’s just an angry character and sort of a whiny loser who hates not having the strength to win even one match of Kendo.
However, by the end of the story I found him to be a bit endearing and I’m glad that Miles gives Keith a sense of focus and drive to become strong for a reason rather than simply to become strong because he wants to be better than Amir or everyone else. By the end of the comic you at least understand why he can be so angry if he loses in a fight and that makes all the difference going forward.
Miles still employs a writing style that focuses on action more-so than depth or subtlety. Not much is left to the reader’s imagination and other than a few key pieces of information most everything is spelled out for us. Not that that is necessarily bad, it’s a style used very much so in the vein of popular Shounen Jump manga, just write for you and the audience you want to attract and Miles is doing just that.
If it’s not going to be deep, at least let it be fun and this series so far has definitely been just that.
In this issue we also get to meet Keith’s father, Fuji Masaru who I like quite a bit. He has a stoicism to him and charm that bleeds right off the page. He also wields two blades which I quite like. We get to know what Fuji was like when he was young Keith’s age through exposition, and he seems to have been similar to bratty young Keith. Like father like son, it makes sense. Being older and wiser at this point in the story, however, Fuji attempts to imbue his son with honor and strength and I find that to be quite admirable.
There’s also a shout out to Seven Samurai in this and that I thought was pretty great. I hope we one day meet these “Seven Samurai Guardians.”
Earlier in the summary I mentioned two mystery men. The bear-masked samurai and a new character who, of all things, wields a gun and dresses very modern in his swanky clothes. This I felt was the most intriguing part of the story as it introduces what has up until this point felt like an Edo Era story and mixes it in with modern technology and clothes.
I’m not exactly sure what kind of world Samurai Shin takes place in now and I’m most certainly intrigued to find out. It also makes me curious-er and curious-er as to why the title of the series is named after one of the mysterious villains. Mekura Shin.
There really wasn’t much about the story itself that I disliked. I think I would like to see Keith not be so… angsty. He reminds me a lot of Sasuke from Naruto. And I think a bit more subtlety in the story could be good, but overall it was all pretty strong.
Finally let’s discuss the art. Like a manga the story is told completely in black and white. Which is fine, I think that works really well for this. But man, Miles really lucked out. The art in this is stellar. Both the flashbacks and the present day scenes. There are also color illustrations peppered throughout the issue and any number of those could make great posters.
Samurai Shin #1.5 really feels like a manga in how the speech bubbles and narration boxes fit on the page. How the action from this incredible art flows. Harley is on par with any great manga artist and I hope he gets to contribute to this world again.
I wouldn’t call this a perfect manga or comic, seldom anything is, but it knows what it is and is very aware of that. This isn’t trying to be anything but a really fun action series with some character drama thrown in here and there. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If anything Samurai Shin #1.5 is a lot of fun. If you’re really into Naruto you’re definitely going to love this. – And if that’s not a line worthy of being quoted on the back of a book, then I don’t know what is.
Final Score: 4 Dual-Katana Wielders out of 5
P.S. – At the beginning of the issue and at the end there are special ad’s for a couple of new series coming in 2017 and 2018 first is the Endigo Society: The Golden Age, and the second is another new series by Miles called Her Impact! Below are those ads and a single page preview of “Her Impact!” which looks like a manga even more so than Samurai Shin #1.5. I can’t wait for it.
Editor’s Note: Head right here for all things Samurai Shin!
Samurai Shin #1.5: The Prelude Story [Manga Edition]
Peep Game Comix
Writer: Mikel Miles
Illustrators: Harley Dela Cruz
Art and Cover: Sukma Agustriyana and Fhami Fauzi
Editors: Lavender Khan & Ivan Earl Aguilar
Reviewer: Derrick Crow
Summary: Telling the origins of Keith Masaru, this story takes place before the events of Samurai Shin #1. A young Keith finds his path to vengeance when two mystery men arrive and introduces chaos into his life.
Plague #2 (of 5)
Creators: Dennis MaGee Fallon, Jason Palmatier, Zach Brunner
Writers: Dennis MaGee Fallon, Jason Palmatier
Pencils/Inks/Coloring: Zach Brunner
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Reviewer: Derrick Crow
Summary: When the King of the Fey dies from the Black Plague, his angry young heir, Twylyth Tegg, vows to save his people by any means necessary. That same night, we meet our hero, Robb Aubert, a fearful friar of the Jedburgh Forest who has lost his faith and fellow friars to the dreaded plague. Driven by a mysterious note from the German Bishop of Hildesheim, Friar Robb is about to catch the last boat leaving the English Isles for the mainland when he crosses paths with an injured English Fairy – Danann Atreyu – a fey girl who has just lost her family to the infamous Black Cross, the Warbishop Jean De Moray. But Moray is more than just a bloodthirsty tyrant, he’s a man haunted by the long-ago death of this baby brother and at war with himself over all he’s done in the name of God since. His dreaded Dyrewolves track Danann’s blood-trail to the gates of the abbey where Friar Robb has unwittingly taken her in. It seems Robb is harboring a magical creature – a crime punishable by death.
Review: Like with issue #1 a lot happens in this book. Unlike issue #1 it’s not as much allowing for a bit more breathing room for our characters. However, I will admit to being impressed by just how far this story has come in only two issues and just how much story Dennis, Jason, Zach, and Dave have all been able to fit into such a short amount of page space.
Also, let me point out that name dropping up to four people who are integral to making this comic work could be seen as a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario. I don’t believe that to be the case with Plague as even when bits of things I’m not quite digging about the story pop up here and there, at the end of the day the comic itself is actually quite solid. Especially with so many voices behind it.
We get around 4 acts in this issue. First with the Warbishop finally meeting Friar Robb and the two of them have a conversation about the “devils” that the Warbishop seeks to destroy. Then both Robb and Danann come face-to-face with Tegg who’s been seeking Danann after his father, the King of Fey, died at the beginning of issue #1. Thirdly the three of them together take on the army of the Warbishop, and after narrowly escaping find themselves on a boat heading toward the Black Forest… only there’s much bigger danger ahead of them that the last page reveals in a pretty cool way.
Tegg meeting up our other two heroes feels natural to the plot progression of the story however much of their interaction with one another felt very cliché in their exchanges. In fact, there’s a lot of cliche’s thrown around in this book. From Danann using her bits of the last of her magic to clean Robb’s kitchen because of course it’s dirty and of course she must feel the need to clean it. That’s always felt like a stereotypical role for women to play in stories at some point.
To the exchanges mentioned earlier where Tegg of course doesn’t trust Robb and wishes to kill him even though Robb has proved himself as a worthy ally to have and the only reason Tegg doesn’t kill him is because Danann sticks up for Robb. Saying the usual lines like “I trust him” and “I’m not going anywhere without him” or something to those effects. The entire bits dialogue in those scenes felt very uneven for me, like I heard them a million times before in other works of fiction.
That all being said, I really enjoyed the conversation between Robb and the Warbishop, as well as the reveal of the fake rosary he gives Robb at the beginning of the book. I’m excited to see where their paths cross again. As well as I enjoyed the fight scenes in the issue where Tegg pulls the souls out of some of the soldiers, and even Danann gets some badass moments as well.
I do like this book. It still manages to surprise me in multiple different ways every issue which is a good thing.
Finally, as always, we discuss the art. There were a few times I wasn’t sure if I was liking what I was looking at, I honestly wasn’t too sure if I enjoyed Danann and Tegg’s looks at times. However, like last issue the art grew on me as the issue went. Brunner’s style is ultimately really nice and is definitely at its best during the kinetic action scenes where so much moves fluidly across the page. There’s a scene where Danann’s blocks a battle axe with her wrists and it’s definitely my favorite scene of the issue because of just how strong the art is in portraying the action.
I still recommend Plague and I look forward to reading the next issue.
Final Score: 4 Ferocious Dyrewolves out of 5