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Samurai: Heaven and Earth #4 (of 5)

Posted: Monday, August 22, 2005
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Luke Ross, Jason Keith (colors)

Publisher: Dark Horse
Price: $2.99


It’s been so long since the last issue came out, here’s a quick recap: In 1704, samurai Asuka Shiro slays the Chinese warlord who stole his lover. But the warlord had already sold the woman, Lady Yoshiko, to an Arab slave trader. Shiro’s quest for his love has led him to Paris, France. A fight with King Louis XIV’s Musketeers lands him in jail. He’s freed by Don Miguel Ratera Aguilar, Spain’s Ambassador. Unknown to Shiro, Don Aguilar has plans for him. And the lady Yoshiko has just been sold to King Louis XIV.

Now, Shiro accompanies Don Aguilar to a costume ball where Don Aguilar tries unsuccessfully to “acquire” Lady Yoshiko. Aguilar offers Shiro his freedom if he kills Louis XIV. With the king dead, King Philip of Spain becomes vulnerable to the Don’s friends. Shiro, of course, will be caught and executed. But then Shiro sees his lady in the King’s chambers. . .

I wish this was an ongoing series. I would have loved to see Shiro traveling the European courts, the Asian wastelands, and the colonial Americas on his quest for his true love. As it is, we get a samurai in Paris. Good enough for me.

This is really a character drama. Everyone is motivated by personal ambition. The deceitful Don Aguilar, the charmingly arrogant Musketeers, and the dozens of characters that move in and out of the story create an atmosphere of privilege, elitism, and racism. Only Shiro remains untouched by this world, so focused on quest for love. Still, I think Marz could write a fun story about the 3 (technically 4) Musketeers.

Luke Ross and Jason Keith successfully create the mood of the 18th Century. From costumes to the color palate, one could believe this story was based on actual paintings. The people look perfectly real. They move with grace, speed, and life. Wonderful work from these two.

If you haven’t picked up the series by now, you’ve missed one of the best mini-series of the year. Might as well wait for the trade book coming soon. Trust me; this is worth $20 and space on your bookshelf.



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