Samurai Guard #1 & #2

Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2000
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Samurai Guard #1 & #2 Writer(s): Kirk Abrigo
Artist(s): Kirk Abrigo, Leon Allen (Colorist/letters on #1)
Publishers: Colburn Comics
From: USA

The basis of this title is that when the political power of the Samurai came under threat, a large group of them decamped to an island off the Japanese mainland to continue their traditions in isolation. In the present this island preserves feudal Japan in all its aspects. In the story so far an unnamed enemy is moving to disrupt this situation as Ninja, commandos and evil spirits all make attacks on the inhabitants of the island.

The main character is Miamoto "Benji" Shiindo, a captain in the Samurai guard. Due to a remark made by one of the attacher is appears that his past is central to the events that unfold. His mysterious father, a rogue Ninja, seems to know more than he is prepared to reveal. Separately they begin making inquires to uncover the reason that lies behind the attacks.

As should be guessed by the description so far, this is an action packed comic that nicely combines modern combat, Samurai, Ninja, spiritual forces and what looks to be a band of super villains in the making. Kirk keeps things moving at a steady pace, getting the exposition over on the first page and letting the action tell the story from then on. The dialogue suffers from the occasion hiccup, for example just what does I love it when anyone I'm up against takes the fact that I'm a female for granted, mean? However the earnestness with which Kirk tells the story won me over, as did the jokey references to other martial art comics that I managed to pick up on.

A similar trend is evident in the artwork. Kirk continually fails to get his characters' faces looking right, but his figure work and successful use of interesting "camera" angles almost make up for this. On the colour front, Leon did some nice work on #1 but overdid the shading and worked in a palette that was too extreme. A few more lighter colours and muted tones would have made it less garish, something Kirk seems to be correcting with his work on #2.

This is a mixed bag with good and bad points but the care that has been taken on the plot gives it a solid base to develop from.

In a Word: Focused.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me