Bushido #1 by Rob Levin (Comics Review)

Given the success enjoyed by certain franchises of late (like in the last five years or so), Vampires are everywhere these days. Whether it is in movies or books or TV shows or whatever, there’s at least something going on with them at any given time. Of course, comics have long been a fertile ground for this horror subgenre, particularly if you look at the Vampirella pulp comic that is still alive and kicking today or the various current ongoing comics such as Scott Snyder’s American Vampire.

Joining all these titles is Rob Levin’s latest, an adaptation of a screenplay as it turns out. Levin, who has worked on various Top Cow/Image properties before, is back with a story involving vampires and samurai in feudal Japan, a setting that I really enjoy in any medium, and with the type of characters that I love reading about.

Bushido 01Levin establishes his protagonist’s backstory in a handful of pages before he moves on to the meat of the story, a story that is about the coming of age of an outsider raised in a culture that is not his own, but one that has allowed him to experience comforts and trials that have brought out the best in him regardless. We never learn what his real name is, but we do know the name he is known by in Japan, Kichiro, meaning “lucky one”. As the character himself remarks, it is a bit of a misnomer, and is also ironic to a degree.

While I enjoyed the story, I do have to comment that the pacing is too fast. The story never pauses to take a break from everything that is going on and the reader is shuttled from one situation to the next. It allows Levin to cover a lot of ground, but it also left me breathless. There was simply too much to take in, especially for a series that is only 5 issues long. As such, some of the characterization suffers since the story doesn’t exactly spend a lot of time on any of the characters, and we only get the barest glimpse of the antagonists, the vampire pirates who killed Kichiro’s parents in the very first page of the issue.

Other than that however, this is a pretty fun comic. It doesn’t go into too many details of life in feudal Japan or the samurai, but it gives us the basics and that’s pretty much enough given how prevalent the setting is becoming, especially of late. And as someone who reads a lot of fiction with samurai in it (kind of… haven’t in a while sadly), this was the perfect approach for me. I didn’t want the comic to tread on ground I’m already familiar with. And Levin does that and more. The mesh of samurai and vampire so far is proving to be well-balanced, and for the moment I am happy with that.

Kichiro as a protagonist is fairly stereotypical, with little to distinguish himself beyond the obvious, but all the same, its fun to see his story play out in the comic format. The characterization itself might have been thin but by the time the issue ended, I was left wanting more.

The art here is by Studio Hive’s Jessada Sutthi with direction by Skan Srisuwan and letters by Top Cow regular Troy Peteri. Bushido #1 is a really beautiful comic, one where each panel, each page leaves an impact on the reader. It certainly did for me. The characters are all well-realised (for the most part) and the flow of the story from panel to panel, other than the pacing issue, is good. If there are any negatives with the art, they are that Kichiro, despite being a gaijin, a foreigner among the Japanese people, never actually stands out as such. We know only from the story that he is a gaijin, not from the art. He looks too similar to the other characters around him to truly be his own character. Changes in skin-tone, perhaps even his hair, or something else that is visually remarkable would have helped immensely. The only other negative is that the fight scenes are too brief. A couple extra panels here and there, totaling to no more than a page’s worth, would have been of help as well.

Like I said though, this is still a pretty fun comic to read and I’ll definitely be tuning in for the next issue. So stay tuned yourselves!

Rating: 8/10

Posted on October 8, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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