Every cinematic version of this classic Japanese story bores me to tears so approached this retelling with some hesitation.
It is a classic story of revenge and honor, featuring samurai, lords, politics and corruption. The writer is Mike Richardson, the President of Dark Horse – a very large man with a bad haircut who has not written very much. The artists, though, is Stan Sakai a veritable powerhouse of an artist, not flashy but he can tell a story. He’ll be recognised as a master one day.
The story is boiled down and presented in just over 140 pages; a corrupt politician goads a honorable lord to break the emperor’s law, the lord is duly executed for his indiscretion but his retainers vow revenge.
The simplicity though works – it doesn’t dwell or over explain, but Richardson doesn’t rush the writing either, nothing is glossed over. It has a good solid pace which Sakai gracefully accompanies with his art. Each panel captures something that propels the story forward; the body language, the backgrounds all work in harmony telling a classic story efficiently but beautifully.
I’ma big fan of Sakai’s other work Usagi Yojimbo but if you want a taste of his work, I’d recommend 47 Ronin.