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"Ronin Island #4" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by BOOM! Studios

Ronin Island 4 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 June 5th, 2019

Review:

After losing many of their friends and loved ones during a fierce and sudden attack by the monstrous Byonin, Hana and Kenichi have finally met the shogun who has organized the remaining clans. It turns out he's an arrogant idiot. They'll have to be careful navigating through the shogun's castle if they hope to get out of here alive. Along the way they discover the truth behind the Byonin, revealing who the real monsters are.

I am continually impressed by how quickly writer Greg Pak can introduce a character and give us a complete understanding of their personality. This was the case with Hana and Kenichi in the first issue and it is definitely true for the shogun here. You have to wonder how he rose to power because he is a cocky buffoon that would probably cut his own leg off if he tried to pick up a sword. I hate him from the moment he first appears.

Artist Giannis Milonogiannis has a pitch perfect design for the shogun. He's supremely confident even though he's scrawny. This is a man that's never been told “no.” He brushes off the concerns of others, especially if they differ from his own opinions. It's like he's living in a fantasy world where the monsters aren't a threat.

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Click images to enlarge

Despite his condescending nature, there's something more going on with the shogun. These people serve him for a reason. That mystery is what pulls us through Ronin Island #4 and it leads to a pretty big revelation. This adds to the overall mythos of the series with an ever-expanding and always intriguing history. The Great Wind killed thousands of people years ago and the survivors got desperate. They were willing to go to inhuman lengths to stay alive.

While all this is so very compelling, the intersection between Hana and Kenichi's character arcs stands above the monsters and their background. Kenichi is suddenly given all the respect and admiration he's felt he's deserved, but it's from the shogun and he wants nothing to do with it. He's given an armor made of gold and a position of power, but he didn't earn it. Meanwhile, Hana is acting more in her own interests. She hasn't forgotten her roots, however, she's somewhat humbled in the presence of the Byonin and the shogun's show of strength.

This leads to a heated confrontation between the two that's made even more powerful by Irma Kniivila's colors. It's an intense scene lit by the glow of fierce fires in the background. They're covered in dirt and blood and it's here where they draw a line in the sand. It's where they decide what's most important to themselves and what they're going to do about it. The flames cast telling shadows around them as they stand face to face with one in the light and the other in the dark.

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Click images to enlarge

The Byonin's presence is definitely felt, much like the undead in a zombie movie. They're always a threat and that's true in Ronin Island. Although they don't speak, they do growl and scream. Letterer Simon Bowland brings out that monstrous element in a big, jagged font that's complemented by some gruesome sound effects. The combination works like a one-two punch of terror.

Ronin Island is much more than just great fight scenes between monsters and samurai. There's a compelling story here about two young people finding their place in the world. They're realizing that life outside of their little island is so much different and while that may open up all kinds of new possibilities, it can cause them to forget what matters most to them.

Grades:

Story: Fivestars Ronin Island 4 Small
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Art: Fourstars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars

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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