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Samurai: Heaven and Earth #1

Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Luke Ross

Publisher: Dark Horse

In 1704, Lord Tokudaiji and his army face certain death against the hordes of Chinese warlord Hsiao. Samurai Asukai Shiro spends the last night before the battle with his lover Yoshiko. He promises her, no matter what, he will allow ďnothing in heaven or on earth to come between usĒ. The next day, Tokudaiji and his men fight to their deaths. Asukai survives when heís buried in rubble from the castle. He learns that Hsiao kidnapped Lady Yoshiko. Before he can join his lord and comrades in death, he must fulfill the vow he made to his love.

This looks and feels like a CrossGen comic. Not only does Marz write ĎSamuraií in a style similar to CrossGenís ĎScioní, but colorist Jason Keith was also ĎScionís colorist. Add to that Luke Rossí art looking almost exactly like Greg Landís (who provides the cover), and Iíd swear this was an unpublished CrossGen comic.

ĎSamurai: Heaven and Earthí has a samurai that puts his love ahead of his honor. Iíve often seen samurai portrayed as intense warriors who value their code of honor more than anyoneís life, including their own. Itís refreshing to see a samurai portrayed as a lover instead of a fighter. Itís his love for Yoshiko that drives Asukai to fight, rather than loyalty to his lord and country.

According to the text piece at the end of the issue, Asukaiís quest for Yoshiko takes him through Europe. Why is a Japanese samurai searching for a Chinese warlord in Europe? I donít know. That should be revealed in future issues. And since thereís no sign of this trip in this issue, nor does any character appear in Europe, I give this book 4 bullets instead of 5. I think thatís an important element of the story and should have been included in the opening chapter.

As it stands, this is a fine comic. Itís well worth your money and your time. And Iím not just saying that because Ron Marz sent it to me for free. If you like samurai stories, quests for lost loves, or penciled art from Brazilians, youíll like this book. Iím buying the next issue. Unless Ron sends me that for free ;-) Ö



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