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"Ronin Island #2" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by BOOM! Studios

Ronin Island 2 00

Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis
Colored by Irma Kniivila
Lettered by Simon Bowland
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 10th, 2019

Review:

This was supposed to be a day of celebration for Hana and Kenichi. They were graduating and ready to tackle new challenges as warriors. The last thing they expected was a General showing up on their shores, demanding allegiance to a Shogun they had never even heard of. That was just the first of their problems as General Sato came with a warning. Monsters were hot on their trail and they were going to rip through their island home and everyone in it if they didn't join forces.

These monsters, called Byonin are pretty creepy. They resemble humans in that they have two legs, two arms, and a head, but that's where the similarities end. Their skin is rough and covered in spikes and horns. Huge teeth bulge out of their mouths, just below their cold, dead eyes. Artist Giannis Milonogiannis makes these creatures look so unnatural in this otherwise quaint setting.

Everything changes when the Byonin attack. Colorist Irma Kniivila sets the sky on fire with bright yellows, oranges, and reds. This adds to the intensity of the battle as Hana, Kenichi, and the other islanders fight for their lives. This contrasts with the desolate landscape shown when Ronin Island jumps ahead one month. Is life under the Shogun's rule better than a battle with the monsters? That's a question they have to ask themselves in this dreary, grey existence.

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The dynamic between Hana and Kenichi is interesting. The former comes from nothing and has fought for everything she has while the latter comes from a privileged family where everything was practically handed to him. Can you guess which one is faring better? Despite their differences, there is a similar warrior's spirit in both of them, pushing them on through all the heartbreak.

Of the two, Hana is definitely a favorite. She has a plucky determination about her, she won't let these soldiers push her down and she certainly won't run away because of some monsters. You'd think after witnessing something like this, you'd take a moment to take it all in, but she handles it in her stride. While Kenichi panics and looks for a way out, Hana looks straight ahead, unyielding at the terrors approaching.

The pacing of Ronin Island #2 is very solid, going from an intense action sequence to a somber change in setting and then back up again. Writer Greg Pak pulls us in for these character defining moments, further investing us with the lives of Hana and Kenichi before ratcheting up the action again at a moment's notice.

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Click images to enlarge

Letterer Simon Bowland adds some extra intensity to these sequences with some big, bold speech. When someone shouts out a command or screams in terror, you can feel it as it pops on the page in a major way. This is what the heat of battle looks like.

The lives of Hana and Kenichi have been changed forever. They now face a frightening choice between the devil they know and the one they don't. Ronin Island delivers horrors on multiple fronts, first with the monster horde and secondly with the oppressive Shogun rule. As with great zombie stories, the human threat is often more deadly than the supernatural one.

Grades:

Story: Fourstars Ronin Island 2 Small
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Art: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: Fourstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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