In the west the idea of the Samurai, until the last few decades was vague and unknown. Most people only thought of them as Japanese Knights, but their culture, ways, and even behavior is extremely complex, much like their medieval European counterparts. Over the last few years the image of the samurai has been romanticized both in the west, and in Japan. Now, when people think of these men, they see honorable warriors who, like the Spartans, fought only for noble causes, and committed great deeds. The truth though, is somewhere in the middle. In Samurai: Brothers in Arms #1 we’re given a fair view of these warriors, and what it meant to be Samurai.
Samurai: Brothers in Arms #1 is written by Jean-Francois Di Giorgio. First off, I have to commend Jean, from what I read in this issue, he has done some basic research about the Samurai, and the men who compose their ranks. Right off the bat you see that the notion of the honorable samurai come to question.
He also explores the many different moral stripes of different Samurai. From the least honorable, to what we would think of today, as an honorable samurai. He also creates a story with some pretty interesting characters, from Princess Akami and her exploits, to the Brothers Takeo and Akio who are the yin and yang of what a samurai is. Even some of the minor characters have good life and aren’t just parts used to fill space.
The art by Frederic Genet carries you into feudal Japan. Genet’s unique style beautifully done and handles the details well. For example, a couple of the action scenes are masterfully put together. Frederic Genet did this by accurately showing the movements used by those who not only use swords, but real techniques that are still employed in many martial arts today; such as Karate, Kendo, and Aikido to name a few. The swordsmanship shown pays respect to the people who carried the blade in that era.
However, the panels are a little clunky by design and can hinder your enjoyment. The way they are lined up don’t feel as natural in their design as they should be and you might end up reading some of the panels out of order.
Colorist Delphine Rieu shines a light on the story. She does this by using colors and shades you would expect from a story of the time. Light browns and skin tones compliment Genet’s art, and makes the issue very enjoyable for the eyes. She uses different skin tones, with all of the humans throughout the issue. She took the time to shade even the background characters so to give the story more detail. While others would just blend them all together, Delphine allows even the minor characters to have their own shades and tones. Another example is seen in the landscape. The dirt looks like dirt, as does the water. Unlike other comics who use tinting as a means to set moods within the story, Delphine allows the natural colors of feudal Japan to give you a sensory experience. She understands that tinting wasn’t needed, and in my opinion works for this issue.
Samurai: Brothers in Arms #1 rushes into feudal Japan, with you in toe. The writing is well researched, and enjoyable. Characters enjoy just enough depth for a beginning issue without feeling overbearing. The art takes what’s imagined by Di Giorgio and gives you structure to be able to move forward in the story, even though some of the panels could have been handled better. Finally, the color is rich, while keeping to the traditions of what is thought to be used for a Japanese-inspired story. Samurai: Brothers in Arms #1 is a good enjoyable story, that will leave you happily expecting issue two.
- Jean-Francois Di Giorgio knows his details and researched well for this story
- Characters aren’t overdone, and minor ones are used well
- The art in general is good, and the action is extremely well done
- The panels within the issue at times was a little clunky which can bring the reader out of the story