47 Ronin #1 (of 5)

by lucstclair on November 06, 2012

To know this story is to know Japan” This is a saying from the very famous & popular story from the earliest parts of 18th century Japan. The story is a true one, but has been fictionalized over the centuries in the form of novels, puppet shows & Japanese theatre known as Kabuki, all to avoid censorship. The story is about a character named Oishi, who’s on a quest to avenge his master and is searching for purpose & honour for himself in a world where ex samurais have dishonoured the Bushido Code, the highest honour a samurai can get.

The Team

This comic adaptation is written by Mike Richardson (The Occultist Vol. 1, Star Wars : Crimson Empire 3 : Empire Lost, Aliens : Genocide) with editorial consultant Kazuo Koike. Illustrated & cover by Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo). Published by Dark Horse Comics.

The Pros & Cons

Having limited knowledge on everything about feudal Japan, ronins & samurais, I decided to nose dive into this comic with zero expectations. What I found was an engrossing story and fascinating characters and I’ve got a hunger for more issues. There’s a hell of a lot of history here and the potential for a knowledgeable history lesson while being entertained at the same time. Like I said, the only exposure I’ve had to these Japanese stories has been to the American Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai, the last remake of Zatoichi (2004), the excellent & excessively violent 13 Assassins and of course the classic, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.


This issue is told through a narrator’s perspective who tells his tale in a past tense and his divided into 3 chapters. There’s a lot of talking and not much action, but it certainly isn’t dull. This comic also lacks the violence and blood letting we’re all accustomed to, when it comes to these stories. The only slicing & dicing is done to a despicable character who only gets a nick on his face, that is the limit of blood splatter you will see in this comic. Maybe this is just the first issue and that will change in the next book or so, or maybe that’s just the way this series is made and instead of mindless carnage, it focuses on the plot and the development of the characters. Whatever the reason, it’s got my interest.


The story is adapted by writer Mike Richardson, a pioneer of Dark Horse Comics and a veteran storyteller. Apparently it was difficult to cram pages & pages of 47 Ronin into a 5 comic book mini series, but for someone like me who’s never read 47 Ronin, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The illustrations are by Stan Sakai, another veteran of Dark Horse, who’s 20 years of Usagi Yojimbo has been a shining example of creator owned projects at Dark Horse. He’s also worked for years on Groo The Wanderer with Sergio Aragones. I’ve never read Usagi Yojimbo, but I’ve always admired his cartoony style and I think it works perfectly for this series.

The Outcome

I really loved this, for a comic that I had no clue as to what it was all about, I was pleasantly surprised. If you’re a fan of samurai stories or even if you’re new to this stuff, I think you’ll enjoy this.

Our Score:


A Look Inside