One of my best Twitter followers, Brian Rose, offered up the following review of my creator-owned Samurai: Heaven and Earth volumes. It was such a nice piece, I wanted to share it with everybody. Thanks, Brian.
Samurai: Heaven and Earth, vol. 1 & 2 review
By Brian Rose
Following Ron on Twitter, I knew he wrote a plethora of superhero stories and I asked him what stories he felt were his strongest, or personal favorite, of anything he’s written. Surprisingly, he tweeted back that he had a strong connection and was quite proud of what he had done with his Samurai saga. Armed with this recommendation, I had been seeking out any readable editions of this story.
Having found BOTH volumes in a local bookstore, I decided to make at least the first volume my night’s reading, and give it a run for my money.
Here I now sit, two hours after cracking open the cover, ready with my feedback after having made it through both volumes in a devouring and hungered pace.
For the first volume, I went into with no expectations, since this is a character of whom I have no precursory knowledge, nor personal investment in, other than the cover price I paid.
For the first pages, I found myself slow to dip into the pool that was the story. However, it didn’t take long to find the emotion all these characters shared, and the realism the fantastic pencils and superb coloring the artists of the book wielded, much like the samurai protagonist wielded his sword, and more importantly, like the love he wielded for his hand maiden. All these elements created a perfect marriage with Marz’s superb storytelling, creating an organic, enthralling, involving and dramatic tale that had perfect doses of humor.
Some of the best story moments came when he introduced his antagonist(s), keeping the reader guessing as to whose motives could be trusted. I greatly enjoyed the banter of the Three Musketeers in the story, and while they were strong supporting characters, I felt their cameo was perfect and not drawn out. In Ron’s capable hands I could see this troupe sustaining their own adventure series! Their humor kept the pace of the story going, and made me eager for more of their involvement. The final ha-ha at the end,as Shiro rides off, made me laugh out loud in a way I rarely do with comics – a surprising enjoyment I took away from the first volume.
The second volume of the saga kept the amazing line work and storytelling, however the change in colorists actually affected me a small bit. I found the previous volume’s colorist to be an amazing talent not often seen in comics. He gave the images a painted realism that gave the characters a pulse beneath their sketched and drawn framework. While the second volume’s colorists were far from terrible, Jason Keith knocked it out of the park the first time around.
Still, the story in the second volume brought me right back into the amazing saga laid out in the first volume. Marz really took it to another level in part two. Where part one was the setup, part two felt like this was where he said “Okay, now that you’ve just walked the stairs, here we’re really going to get on the ride.”
The antagonist in the first volume was a right old jackass that I was growing to hate; but here, he was developed into the most complete fucker of all villainy to ever grace a comic page. I really came to hate him, and was glad to watch him suffer. It made me cheer with glee as Shiro just kept giving a whooping to everything that got in his way. What was marvelous was that he did it with a strong sense of realism; Shiro’s abilities were established in perfectly-timed flashback vignettes that showed him developing into the machine and soldier he was, as he decimated leagues of madmen and henchmen.
Shiro fought through the final obstacles that stood in his way, to finally live the remainder of his life with his love. She was, by the way, an equally strong character, not in anyone’s shadow, and filled with heart and desire to fight her way out of any situation, and not let anything stand in the way of helping herself and Shiro achieve everlasting peace.
Seeing the villainous Spaniard get struck down was a cathartic joy, watching as he finally had his blood spilled in the sand. At the point of showing our hero and his love ride off into the proverbial sunset, Marz’s storytelling made yet one more twist, reminding this reader that Ron is truly an asshole, and that I will definitely be reading the next issue he puts out. This was an amazing saga, worthy of getting a theatrical treatment.
The story was artfully brought to a wonderful close, but Marz had to go and give us hints at the end, as that hand lifted from the sand, straining for vengeful life, making us, the readers, beg for more. Please … MORE!