Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Luke Ross
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Here is an epic, adventurous story. It doesnít matter that weíve seen it many times before. Its execution is charming and exciting, and thatís what matters.
In issue #4, Shiro continues to search for his love Yoshiko. With the help of a trader, he is able to pose as a slave in an effort to get closer to Yoshiko and is ďboughtĒ by the Pasha, who currently has her in his harem. The ruse works, but how long will they be able to evade their pursuers? Meanwhile, Don Miguel (who, of course, still has it in for Shiro) is being tortured and beaten by the Pashaís men. When he discovers what Shiro has done, he persuades the Pasha to let him help them find Shiro in exchange for his life.
There are moments when I felt the dialogue was a bit stilted or awkward, but the more I read, the less stilted it seemed. As I read, I came to realize that itís not wooden so much as it is classical. The reason it felt unusual and out of place at first was because itís been so long since Iíve read a swashbuckling type of story, especially in the medium of comics, and it caught me off guard (I havenít been reading this title regularly). Mr. Marz takes this traditional type of storyline to the full extent, including dialogue.
There is only one aspect of this comic that I felt could have been improved: the fairly slow pace of the storytelling at times. Overall, the pacing was great, but there are two pages in particular that utilized a lot less of the given space for story progression than they could have. Towards the end of the issue, after Shiro and Yoshiko finally have a quiet moment, there are two entire pages devoted to this. While Iím sure the intention was to pull us into their romantic moment, which it did, it was a lot of spaceóand panelsóto only show one brief moment in the narrative.
The characterization creates a likeable, strong, capable hero in Shiro; he has a nice balance of qualities, including a well-rounded sense of humor as well as the nobility you would generally expect from a samurai. Whatís even better, though, is that Yoshiko is a more realistic and interesting character than your basic damsel in distress usually is. The result is I cared a lot more about her, and Shiroís rescue of her, than I expected. Itís refreshing to see this kind of thorough portrayal of any character, but especially the female character in this type of story.
Mr. Rossí art is gorgeous, and it complements the emotion and the heart of this tale. His depiction of action as well as emotion and body language is detailed and still beautiful; thereís an uncommon grace to his pencil work. The colors helped to pull me further into the story; they give a depth to the sandy deserts, the silky clothing fabrics, that make you feel like you really are there.
Iím anxiously awaiting the continuation of this story, and I donít even care that I think I know how itís going to end (weíll see if Iím right!). This is, in essence, a timeless adventure/romance with beautiful art work added to it. Whether youíve been keeping up with this title or not, pick this one up.
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