Sunday, December 26, 2010

Swordsmith Assassin

Written by Andrew Cosby and Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Ayhan Hayrula

It's been a while since I've read a story like this.  Swordsmith Assassin is a typical example of the Western idea of a Japanese story.  Toshiro Ono is a legendary swordmaker, who, unlike his equally famous father, was willing to sell his swords to anyone that wanted one.  When his family is killed by a robber using one of his swords, he decides that he will track down and reclaim all of the swords he's made, and cast them into the ocean.

This quest takes many years, as he has to learn how to use a sword, and comes across other obstacles, such as figuring out a way to enter an impenetrable fortress, and to heal from a number of wounds at different times.  Ono demonstrates great vision and singularity of purpose, as his journey takes him as far as West Prussia.

What I like about this comic is the way in which the writers incorporate the history of the time period, and set the story against the backdrop of the Boshin War, and the Franco-Prussian War.  I'm always a sucker for historically accurate and researched stories, so this worked well for me.

I really like Hayrula's artwork.  He has a nice realistic style, and a strong sense of layout.  Searching the internet, it seems he hasn't done any comics work since this book, which is a shame, as I'd like to see more of his stuff.

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