Samurai: Heaven and Earth #4


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Samurai: Heaven and Earth #4


  • Words: Ron Marz
  • Art: Luke Ross
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: Jason Keith
  • Story Title: Lords and Ladies
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 11, 2005

The Samurai Asukai Shiro, now in the employ of the sinister Spanish ambassador to France, is embroiled in deadly politics – unaware of how close he is to his love.

It has been five months since the last issue of Samurai but I had not really noticed. This story is more of a meditative sweeping saga than an edge-of-the-seat thriller and as such each issue does not leave me overly anxious for the succeeding instalment. This fourth issue picks up where the previous one left off: Shiro has been recruited to stand as bodyguard to the Spanish Ambassador in Paris. Also in Paris is the woman who Shiro has followed halfway across the world. Silent and dignified, Shiro wants only to do his duty and be released but the devious Ambassador has other plans.

Ron Marz has often been accused of mediocrity but after having read more of his work I understand that he is simply a writer who needs a stunning artist. He engages in simple themes and compact characters; collaborating with an artist capable of filling the pages with arresting images. His main character, Shiro, is so stolid and withdrawn he is almost non-existent. It is therefore so important that the setting around him be crafted in such a way that his contrast to it is a storytelling device of much greater power than inner monologue or narration. The artwork of Luke Ross is the major draw-card for this book for his ability to provide just that. While the plot itself is something of a boys-own tale (Samurai versus the Three Musketeers!), its combination with the textured artwork raises it up to a much richer experience.

Ross and the excellent colorist, Jason Keith, deliver a number of very strong, breathtaking images that are so vivid they almost appear to be actual time-filled moments. One of these is the opening splash page which has a composition laden with interest. The reader could get lost in this page – following the character’s eye lines or examining the costumes and architecture that give the setting its legitimacy. Another moment is the issue’s final rain-soaked panel. It is an image filled with hope and desire, shock and despair.

Like many miniseries in this day and age, Samurai: Heaven and Earth, would read much better in a collected form. This really should have been a graphic novel but the conventions of the market dictate otherwise. Nevertheless, there are some fine moments to be found in this issue which will both excite and engage those willing to be swept away.

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