Vault Comics 2020
Written by Sebastian Girner
Illustrated by John Bivens
Coloured by Iris Monahan
Lettered by Jeff Powell
Grim Ketsuko and bumbling Fubei have agreed to lead the arrogant ronin through the woods and over the mountain. But death walks freely in the night, as the dishonored samurai are stalked by shadows of the Black Tongue ninja--and a devil who walks among them.
The more we get into this story the more intense and intriguing it becomes. Last issue showed us that Ketsuko led her clan on the battlefield. What we don’t know is what happens when her father dies and it’s up to Aragami Isanosuke to lead the clan and this is going to come to light soon if this issue is any indication. I will say that what we do see this issue is way beyond what I thought we would see, and this is a good thing mind you as Sebastian shows us that he can write one hell of a character driven narrative with the best of them.
I am a fan of the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented beautifully. Also I am a huge supporter of this being something you have to pay attention to what you are reading so as not to miss a thing. Or get lost as the story goes back and forth to her warrior days and now. The character development we see remains consistent with what you would expect of the era as the men are cocky, arrogant and weaklings but it is fun to see Ketsuko and Fubei save them all. The pacing here is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing more of this world and more of Ketsuko and her past you cannot help but be swept up in this river of blood.
With the way we see this being structured and how the layers within the story unfurl things begin to take shape, thrilling, violently and full of bloodlust but they take a definite shape. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow is beautifully rendered here. There is so much more to this than meets the eye and the more we learn the more there is still to learn and we have that need to learn more.
The interiors here are interesting. The linework is good and strong throughout and when the varying weights are utilised to create the detail work it is exceptional! But then there are times during their journey that the faces lack consistency in how they are drawn, I know farther away it’s more difficult but honestly now there are times it doesn’t look like the effort was there. The creativity and imagination that we see is utterly spectacular and in the Tengu and in Kamimura Botaro what we see is frighteningly fascinating to say the least. Backgrounds are essential for a story like this as they traverse through the woods so I wish we’d see more being utilised instead of the colour swirls denoting action. Th3e utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a strong eye for storytelling. The colour work is divine. How we see the hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is phenomenal. Plus all that red and how the shades we see in that is bellissimo!
This is the kind of book where we see how legends are born. Myths of monstrous creatures roaming the woodlands preying upon weary unsuspecting travellers. There is no place richer in this kind of lore than in the Orient and to see this be told, come to life and showcase what it does along the way makes this a must have series.