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Samurai: Heaven & Earth, Vol. 2, #1Creators: Ron Marz
In the first SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH mini-series, we were introduced to Asukai Shiro, a dedicated samurai, and his love, the Lady Yoshiko. Kidnapped and sold to a slave trader after a war, Yoshiko was sent West, and Shiro followed her all the way to France only to lose her again. In this issue, Shiro tracks down the slave trader, determined to find Yoshiko again. Meanwhile, her new captor runs even farther away, aware that the samurai is on his trail and always looking behind him.
The story of SAMURAI isn't too complicated, and the idea of an iconic hero traveling through other cultures isn't particularly new, but Marz and Ross execute it very well and the result is an enjoyable tale. The characters are more like templates, though--the invincible warrior, devoted woman, nefarious Spaniard, and so on. This is the story's major fault.
What really takes SAMURAI above many other comics is the skill of Luke Ross in rendering accurate and interesting visions of early 18th century Europe and Asia. The art is gorgeous, and it really makes me wonder why Ross isn't getting more work. Of course, Rob Schwager's colors take Ross's lines and make them burst off the page. As good as Ross is, it's Schwager's coloring work that takes it to the next level here.
I wouldn't look for comics literature here, but if you want an interesting story with some great art, check SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH out.--Dan Grendell