Spring is a season of rebirth, or new life springing forth, a time of cherished blooming and delightful scents. But for Kubikira Asa, there is no spring delight. The Edo-era samurai crime drama by Lone Wolf and Cub creators Koike and Kojima continues down its path of heinous crime and diligent, bloody justice.
Spring may come to the innocent, but to those condemned to lose their heads to Asa’s sword, it will be their last.
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Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima: Winner 2002 Harvey Award Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work for Lone Wolf & CubFrom Booklist:
Acclaimed manga master Koike's historical series look enough alike to suggest that his relationship to his artist collaborators is like that of a film director to a cinematographer. He probably constructs scenarios detailed right down to angles of vision and charges the artists to realize them with differing degrees of realism.
Samurai Executioner is drawn in a poetic realist style. Gushing blood, grimacing faces, rain, wind, and fire appear next-to--photographic at first; a beat later, the lines and shadings that conjure mood register. One could rush through a story barely noticing Kojima's craftsmanship, especially in The Death Sign of Spring's two hyperviolent volume openers about men of very different stations who in essence go berserk. Asaemon the executioner's exceptional compassion is the point of the next three shorter, quieter stories, one of which lacks violence, though--this is another story about the eponymous heroine of Shinko the Kappa (2005)--not sex. There is less swirling black ink in those three, which makes sense. The concluding two stories about offenders roused to fury by perceived injustice return to the noirish lighting effects of the first two. Ray Olson
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