The 5 Ronin limited series debuts this week and immediately thrusts one of Marvel’s most recognizable faces, Wolverine, into the spotlight. Right from the get-go some details spring to the forefront of this issue that had my spider-sense tingling — mainly the fact that this book is set in 16th Century Japan. Huh?
Yes, Wolverine has a convoluted history, but is it not canon that Logan is indeed James Howlett circa 19th Century Canada? This lead to some frustration for me as it simply had me second-guessing the whole premise of the story that writer Peter Milligan set out to tell.
Besides the timeline inconsistencies I found the book to be somewhat enjoyable as Milligan weaves a tale of ancient Samurai in Feudal Japan who have sworn to avenge the death of their fallen master. There are a few neat moments that Milligan creates within these pages and it is too bad that he couldn’t keep a more cohesive reign on his ideas. As it turns out, this story just leaves you scratching your head, wondering what could have been.
The saving grace of this opening foray into 5 Ronin was the wonderful Tomm Coker pencils. Coker’s art served as a lighthouse in the tumultuous storm of an issue that seemed to just take a “throw ideas to a wall and see what sticks” method of creativity. Daniel Freedman lends a refining vision with his complimentary color palette that enhanced the already fine pencils.
What is the purpose of this issue? Does it serve to further the character in any significant fashion? Does it set up a storyline? The answer to both is “No.” Instead, it seems just like a shameless attempt to milk readership of their money. Honestly, If not for the artwork, this issue would be a total waste. In the end, I find myself simply not caring to indulge in this limited series any further after this point, which is a shame considering it introduces some intriguing elements.