Ronin Island Vol 1 by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis
This story begins on a peaceful island off the coast of Japan, where two young people vie against each other to be stronger, faster, better. One is the Kenichi, the son of a great samurai, and the other is Hana, a Korean refugee and outcast. Then, a strange Shogun lands on their shores and demands fealty in return for protecting the island from the oncoming horrors. The villagers try to refuse, but it becomes clear that the horrors are forces that they are not prepared to face. Someone has released a mutation that causes soldiers to become zombie-like creatures bent on destroying the living. At the end of volume 1, Hana and Kenichi take different paths to combating the mutants, so it will be interesting to see where the journey takes each of them.
The setting and conflict of this story have intrigued me, and I am anticipating volume 2's publication later this year. I need to know what happens on the two different paths, but I also have so many questions still about the world Hana and Kenichi live in. As with most volume 1s, not all of the world is completely built-out, especially about the past before this story takes place. There are a few characters without much backstory in volume 1 that I would love to see explored. The one negative I would have about this title is some of the narrative jumps that happen. At one point, everyone gets in row boats to travel across a body of water to help fight these mutant soldiers, but I'm not exactly sure if that was supposed to be the main island of Japan or not. The artistic style is reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series but grittier, and the coloring is absolutely beautiful.
BOOM! Studios doesn't seem to rate their titles, but I would place this in the Teen category because of the violence. There isn't a ton of blood on the page, but there is violence against the mutant soldiers, including decapitation.
As an added bonus, since the threat of COVID-19 is such a hot topic at the moment, this story could become another lens through which to look at spread of infection. In this case, the spread creates mutants, but there could be interesting parallels drawn between the hysteria of this mutation compared to the hysteria of COVID-19.
Sara's Rating: 7/10
Suitability level: Grades 9-12
Download a preview here.
Tags: Rating: 7/10, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Historical Fiction, Horror
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I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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