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Mon, 12 Nov ’12

Must-Read Mondays: Dark Horse’s 47 Ronin

The classic Japanese tale comes to comic book life.

What better way to start your week than with a classic tale of bloody revenge? Well, continental breakfast notwithstanding, Dark Horse’s new mini-series 47 Ronin is one such story that you shouldn’t let pass you by. Not only is it based on the “Tale of the 47 Ronin,” one of the most famous Japanese legends of all time, but it boasts a creative team including Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, illustrator Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo) and editorial consultant Kazuo Koike (Lone Wolf and Cub). In fact, you should consider it your sworn duty not to let this book slip through your grasp.

Haven’t heard of the “Tale of the 47 Ronin?” It goes a little something like this: after their daimyo Asano Naganori was wrongfully forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) by Kira Yoshinaka, a court official, the 47 samurai were left masterless and, bound by bushido, the samurai code of honor, they embark on a two-year quest to avenge their master’s death. All of this leads to an assault on Kira’s compound that would give any heist film a run for its money. And, really, when you have samurais, larger-than-life causes and a bloody battle for revenge, what else do you need?

While this version doesn’t include any Keanu Reeves (you’ll have to wait until Christmas 2013 for that eyebrow-raising adaptation), it does provide faithful insight into what has been called “Japan’s national legend.” It doesn’t have the dense prose of a Donald Keene translation, but Mike Richardson strikes a nice balance between accessibility and historical accuracy, often providing footnotes for certain historical details. However, what puts this book above and beyond on our pull list is Stan Sakai’s artwork, which manages to be reminiscent of his classic comic Usagi Yojimbo and evokes an ukiyo-e aesthetic that suits the series to a tee. So, if you like to watch your history unfold in style, take vengeance on your boredom and snag a copy of 47 Ronin #1 at your local comic book store.