Zilla and the Comics Junkies

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Silent Dragon #1

Now THIS is my kind of book. I'm a history nerd pretty much all around but i especially love ancient Japanese history (even more specifically feudal Japan). Samurai culture facinates me to no end and i usually try and get my hands on anything directly, or even loosely related. Unfortunately (for me since i kind of sleep on the style) most of the Samurai comics/GN's/cartoons you'll find these days are hardcore manga (or at least "manga-ish" like Blade of the Immortal), but every once in a while you'll get a few non-manga gem's like Dark Horse's Usagi Yojimbo or Samurai Heaven and Earth (both of which i love). Wildstorm's Silent Dragon falls neatly into this non-manga Samurai title category (albeit with a unique sci-fi twist) - and #1 is a winner IMO (especially after the halfway mark).

Our story starts in 2063 A.D. and after just a few intense pages (and one INCREDIBLE panel), we're taken back a year to 2062. Our main character, a Samurai named Renjiro, is confronted in the woods by a vaporous image of Ikiryo (or "Living Ghost"). Ikiryo warns Renjiro of an impending and life-changing crossroads in his future and offers him safe passage (protection) if he will only turn against the evil Lord Hideaki, whose clan Renjiro's family has served for over 400 years. Renjiro quickly turns down the offer (his personal honor will not allow such betrayal), and returns home to the summons of the beautiful Lady Takara (Hideaki's wife/concubine).

Takara reveals her oft hidden feelings for Renjiro (oh my this is going to get ugly you can tell right?) and a plot she has conceived to poison Lord Hideaki - or kill herself if she fails. By telling Renjiro of her plan, she forces him into a decision: Stand idely by (protecting Takara) and allow his master to be murdered and his own honor tarnished, or warn Hikeaki and see Takara summarily tortured and eventually murdered for treason. I want so, so badly to give away the end of this issue but i won't do it (so feel free to read on). It's one of the best endings i've read in a long, long while (to any floppy at least) and sets the stage for #2 and the rest of the mini i'm sure.

From what you've read so far, you can probably tell i'm in love with Andy Diggle's writing in Silent Dragon (first of his work i've read). He does a great job w/ the flow of the story and in writing some powerful dialogue that doesn't feel like it was translated from Japanese (mainly because it wasn't). Diggle deftly handles the mixture of Samurai culture, Bushido, and sci-fi/futuristic elements. I'm anxious to see where Diggle takes us with this story over the next 5 issues (especially considering the first and last few pages of this #1). And luckily for us Diggle is not alone in the "atta-boy"'s from this reviewer.

The pencil is handled by a guy (new to me) named Leinil Francis Yu - and he does a more than admirable job. The art is killer IMO (Yu's pencils are colored by the guy who does such a temendous job on Conan - Dave Stewart). Even though Silent Dragon takes place in Japan 50 years in the future, Yu makes impressive work of the characters and backgrounds to give the entire book that ancient Japanese look and feel (from the scenery and architecture, to the clothes, armor, and weapons), and at the same time throwing in a subtle futuristic twist here and there (much better IMO than shoving it in our faces to help push what they feel is a unique differentiator for the title).

There's a kick-ass (and highly original) character in here w/ tattooed lizard arms that is just so bad-ass IMO, and an incredible panel a few pages in that literally took my breath away (i'm a super nerd i know, i know). You'll definitely see this one on Panel 'o the Day at some point ;) Here's hoping we get a lot more of Yu's work on the shelves in the future.

This title probably isn't for everyone (but how could you resist a Samurai tale set 50 years in the future?)... from my point of view it's an A+.

It was all over when...


30 July, 2005 10:02, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

Great review, Zilla. I really liked Silent Dragon, as well. It's by-the-book, but in a good way. That first issue is the perfect setup for a great Samurai story.

30 July, 2005 12:27, Blogger Ryan X said...

Excellent review! I read this yesterday at work, I absolutely loved it. The panel you posted here at the end, that is one of the best I have ever seen, unreal. Looking forward to discussing this story as future issues emerge. Thanks zilla!

31 July, 2005 01:03, Blogger Greg said...

You should check out Samurai: Heaven and Earth from Dark Horse. It's a mini-series that has been coming out rather slowly, but it's excellent. A samurai wanders around Europe in the early 18th century looking for the love of his life, who was sold into slavery. Gorgeous art by Luke Ross.

Silent Dragon was excellent, you're right.

31 July, 2005 01:16, Blogger zilla said...

greg - i've read the first 3 issues of samurai H&E. it's def fantastic. the art in that title is amazing. i've already got the TPB on pre-order for sept. can't wait to put that on my shelf.


Post a Comment

In no particular order:

Criminal, The Goon, Daredevil, Exterminators, Punisher, Hellboy/B.P.R.D (All), Powers, Godland, Usagi Yojimbo, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Conan, Ex Machina, DMZ, Desolation Jones, Fell, 100 Bullets, All-Star Superman, Ultimates 2, Loveless, and Fear Agent.

I'm recently back reading after a 15 year comics hiatus.

Zilla is not my real name.

I'm from Tejas living in VA. I'm married w/ 2 dogs. I'm an IT security consultant cranking the wheel for a big consulting firm in "real" life.

I watch the History Channel, Nat'l Geo, TLC, Mil Channel, ESPN and NFL Network, CourtTV (forensic files, etc.) and the Cartoon Network (love Genndy T's Samurai Jack and Clone Wars Adventures). My taste in movies: Gladiator, Last Samurai, Braveheart, Godfather, Tarantino (whatever), Kung-Fu (whatever), Westerns, Top Gun, Big Lebowski.

I love the outdoors and bs'ing around w/ my dogs.

In addition to being a comics junkie, i'm also a sports junkie especially when it comes to the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys.

Blog contents copyright © 2005 Rod Wetsel