Jin and Mugen. Sasuke and Naruto. Ken and Ryu. Now…Keith and Amir. Rivalry has often been the lifeblood of stories across multiple media. What encourages a warrior to thrive more than some friendly competition? Samurai Shin comes out swinging with its first issue, showing off two young swordsmen taking a friendly sparring match too far. When their fight turns deadly, it’s cut short. That payoff will have to come later.
Writer Mikel Miles does well to hook readers with this familiar trope. Keith has knowledge we don’t. Amir is in the dark. We’re with Amir. Quickly after this stunning conflicting, we get more familiar character archetypes that give us just enough information to form an understanding of Amir’s life. This is where our first issue excels; it gives us a lot of information in very palatable quantities. Most impressive was the buildup of Amir’s mother, characterized as an incredible warrior with a fierce sense of loyalty as well as love for her son. Not to mention our mysterious villain… Unfortunately, some clunky dialog staggers the otherwise consistent tone of the issue. Pilot syndrome? Perhaps.
The art by Ivan Aguilar is reason enough to keep reading. Everyone likes samurai action and the keys to rendering it in sequential art are all here. There’s a clear sense of motion, excellent posing and a highly unique use of color that takes us from the scale of a desaturated one-on-one to our small world set ablaze. Aspiring colorists should take note. The only visible hiccoughs are in the placement of the letters. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is speaking, particularly in monologue boxes that seem to jump from first person to third. This confused narrative is forgivable though thanks to their context in the art.
Ultimately, this is a series to watch from two storytellers that deserve the support. Readers can look forward to seeing the bumps getting smoothed out and delving into the inevitably thicker plot. What’s next? Safe to say we’ll see some action, some secrets and maybe even a dash of cathartic vengeance.
Suspenseful, dramatic tone
Quickly familiarized characters
Forgivably inconsistent dialog