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Samurai: Heaven and Earth #2

Posted: Friday, January 28, 2005
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Ron Marz
Artists: Luke Ross (p & i), Jason Keith (colorist)

Publisher: Dark Horse

Our hero Asukai Shiro has come to China seeking his kidnapped lover, Lady Yoshiko. He confronts her captor, the warlord Hsiao, who tells him he sold Yoshiko to an Arabian slave trader. Shiro avenges his fallen lord, then continues his journey.

In my review of the previous issue, I mistakenly said the cover was drawn by Greg Land. I had confused his name in the credits with editor Dave Land.

This issue demonstrates how an artist can successfully communicate intensity through a minimum of panels. In short, less says more. Shiro’s confrontation with Hsiao leads to a fight with Hsiao’s bigger bodyguard. Their fight is shown only in a one and a half page splash, surrounded by small squares of blood, limbs, and general violence. The next page presents Shiro standing amidst fallen bodies. While it’s not clear exactly what happened, the speed and violence are self-evident. At the end, there is a quick cut from one panel to the next that uses a great cinematic technique: the jump cut. Focus on a single item in one scene, then cut to a similar item in the next scene, with both items in the same relative positions. The most famous example is the bone/satellite cut from 2001. The “jump cut” in Samurai not only conveys the quickness and brutality of Hsiao’s end, but speaks volumes about Shiro’s abilities.

Using only two panels.

It’s really something to see.

I am most definitely buying the entire mini-series, and encourage all of you to do the same. This is too good to wait for the trade book.



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