The Road To Vengeance
Tripwire continues its daily recommendation of 100 graphic novels people should read with Dark Horse’s Lone Wolf And Cub: The Assassin Road , by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, out now in trade, reviewed by its editor-in-chief Joel Meadows …
Lone Wolf And Cub: The Assassin Road
Writer: Kazuo Koike
Artist: Goseki Kojima
Dark Horse Comics
Lone Wolf & Cub started publication in its native Japan back in 1970, created by writer Koike and artist Kojima. Over its existence, it built up a huge following, winning fans in US comics like Frank Miller, who of course went on to make a splash with comics like Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil. Lone Wolf & Cub first saw an English translation through First Comics back in 1987, spearheaded by the aforementioned Miller.
First Comics then published the entire saga from 2000 onwards. Lone Wolf & Cub is a Japanese cultural phenomena, spawning six films and a television series. The Assassin Road introduces us to Ogami Itto, a disgraced samurai who wanders 17th century Japan with his son, Daigoro. He has become a sword for hire, with his almost supernatural skills as an assassin and his ability to be at least two steps ahead of anyone else who is foolish enough to stand in his path.
The nine tales contained in this volume showcase Koike and Kojima’s unsurpassed panache as comic creators. Kojima’s kinetic art lends excitement and a savage beauty to Koike’s fast-moving scripts. Running in black and white gives it a extra impact. Economy is the order of the day here with the pair packing so much into short 20 to 30 page stories. Koike brings 17th century Japan into sharp focus here, offering us a fascinating glimpse into the Edo era that the story is set in. Each story is an inventive look at Japan’s history.
Lone Wolf & Cub is as close as you can get to having Kurosawa on paper too, following in the tradition of that director’s samurai stories like Yojimbo and Seven Samurai. It is an epic, widescreen tale with this first volume making readers hungry for more adventures. The entire saga which spans 7000 pages is one of the most impressive ever committed to comics in any language and The Assassin’s Road is a wonderful entrypoint into Koike and Kojima’s exceptional series.
Lone Wolf & Cub Volume One is out now from Dark Horse Comics.
Here’s a link to the first four of our 100 GNs too