By Rob Levin & Jessada Sutthi
Image Comics have been releasing a mind-boggling number of incredible books lately, and the new mini-series Bushido from their Top Cow Productions label looks like it could be another hit. This five-issue story was inspired by a Shahin Chandrasoma screenplay titled Rising Sun. The first issue introduces readers to the world of samurai with a twist.
Issue #1 starts off on a great historical basis, delving into the world of bushido in imperial Edo, Japan. The opening is executed with a swift ferocity and wastes no time getting the protagonist’s backstory out of the way. A young European boy on a ship is witness to a horde of vicious creatures slaughtering the crew, including his family. After washing up on the shores of Japan, he is adopted by a local samurai who teaches him the ways of bushido along with his own son. However, because he is gaijin (foreigner) he can never become a samurai. This story seems like a familiar premise, but the execution is magnificent. Rob Levin’s writing is intelligent and full of depth. The protagonist’s introspective dialogue throughout the first installment conveyed the emotion of the story to great effect. Furthermore, the pacing is pitch-perfect; while the plot moves at a pleasantly brisk pace, there is no sense of sacrifice in any context of the story. The interpersonal conflicts that are covered may be relatively traditional, but the execution of these character issues is sincere and engaging. The more traditional story eventually transitions into another vampire attack, this time against the main character’s new family, which leads to further interpersonal conflict for our apparent hero. Uniquely new concepts are always welcome in any story-telling medium, but when classic elements are used appropriately, as seen in Bushido #1, the overall effect can be just as powerful.
The story in issue #1 is off to a good start, while the excellently crafted dialogue keeps the book interesting. However, the artwork provided by Jessada Sutthi was the most jaw-dropping aspect of Bushido. The visuals are some of the best I’ve come across; beautifully painted images which possess incredible realism and life. The coloring further enhances this aspect through magnificent lighting and other environmental details like reflections, the setting sun, and even the water. The sharp images are incredibly vibrant in every respect, while the panel layouts on a number of pages give an even more dynamic sense to the story. The visuals are nothing short of epic and they really help to build upon the depth and sincerity in the story-telling itself.
Bushido #1 was an exciting read with violence and action, but also intelligent story and character interaction. The artwork was the real shining star of the issue though, representing a pinnacle in the medium. The realism, depth, and overall attention to detail make the book even more interesting than it otherwise might have been. The series is only set to run for five issues in total, but the pacing of this first installment hints at a quickly moving plot that, nevertheless, doesn’t neglect an engaging story.