Opening your mini-series with a price of one dollar is a gutsy move. After all, you’re counting on it bringing in enough sales on later issues to make up the losses (or at least lessen them), but it also means that you have enough confidence that your first issue will hook readers. In the case of “Samurai’s Blood,” that’s clearly what Owen Wiseman, Nam Kim, Matthew Dalton, and Jessica Kholinne were feeling.
The art in “Samurai’s Blood” is definitely the stronger half of the comic. It’s attractive, and while it involves a lot of samurai glowering at one another, there’s enough variety along the way to show that they know how to handle facial expressions and emotions. Generally speaking, they’re good with action, too; there aren’t lots of huge battles, but when fights do break out, there’s enough energy and punch to those scenes to make you feel like it’s unfolding in front of you.
Occasionally, though, some of the individual moments come across not as strong as they could be. Some of the assassinations of the Sanjo clan members come across as a little awkward in their posing, and the death of Sanjo Ichiwara on his horse (as it’s startled into leaping off a cliff) looks unintentionally funny rather than serious. You’re half expecting an, “Oops!” as the silhouette of the horse and rider plummet up and over the edge of the cliff.
As for the script, it’s not bad, but it tries a little too hard in places. Wiseman peppers the script with narration boxes with what are supposed to sound like proverbs and lore from the time. Instead, though, it sounds like every bad samurai movie cliche wrapped up into one. If Wiseman had stuck to just one or two I think it might not have stood out so much, but by the fifth nugget of wisdom, it’s hard to keep from rolling your eyes.
The plot itself is very standard, with one clan massacring another and the last survivors having to run and fight for their lives. It’s an all-too familiar trope in samurai fiction. I’m hoping now that the first issue is done with all of the setup, that future issues will have a little more bite to them. It’s got the potential, certainly.
At just $1, you definitely get your money’s worth with “Samurai’s Blood” #1. (Heck, a cover by Jo Chen alone is worth that price.) Hopefully enough other readers will see the potential in this series to want to see where it goes next. With such a low-priced entry point, I think they’ve got a genuine shot at people sticking around. If nothing else, though, these creators are as brave as the samurais they’re creating comics about.