“1563. Japan is in chaos. After centuries of rule, the central government has lost control, plunging the country into a bloody civil war. Anarchy reigns as warlords seek power and territory. Rivers run red with blood.”
That is written on the first page of this issue, whose full name is “Blood & Fire: A Samurai Tale.” It is the first in a series set in 16th Century Japan.
While extremely low on dialogue and narration, the story moves along nicely. Artist Ezequiel Rubio Lancho does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of conversations without needing to read them.
His depiction of Japanese landscapes, both with and without snow, and architecture is simply beautiful to behold.
His artwork is also top notch. Every panel is sepia toned except when blood is shed: the splattered red practically jumps off the page.
There is a lot of action peppered in between the quieter moments of the book.
Writer Aaron Wroblewski has achieved a nice balance of furthering the main story while adding some subtle touches and nuance.
“Blood & Fire” offers a trope about samurai and Japan. It is about honor, duty, loyalty, honesty, and betrayal. Aren’t most stories set in feudal Japan about those things?
The main character follows the Bushido code of conduct and remains loyal to his lord in the midst of the lawlessness plaguing the nation. He is also shown as a gentle man who clearly loves his wife and child.
In one “exchange,” the main character says to his wife over dinner “Delicious, as always” which we see translated to “I love you, always.” She says back to him “You are most kind,” actually meaning “I love you too.”
He travels with his lord to his lord’s brother’s home when the latter falls ill. In the ensuing violence one is left to wonder, “How long would your loyalty last in the face of death?”
Wroblewski and Rubio have provided a simple, elegant, and timeless tale. They provide an insight into the mind of the main character who appears to disdain violence but is not above killing when he needs to.
Es Kay does an excellent job with the lettering, using a font that resembles Japanese characters.
“Blood & Fire” has it all: action, some comedy, and drama. It is excellent to see and read.
The ending is a real nail-biter.
For everything about “Blood & Fire” you could want, visit the Kickstarter page here.
To find author Aaron Wroblewski, visit him on Instagram:
and his website:
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