REVIEW: ‘Ronin Island,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ronin Island #2 is published by BOOM! Studios, written by Greg Pak, with art from Giannis Milonogiannis, lettering by Simon Bowland, and colors from Irma Kniivila. This issue comes right on the heels of the announcement that the formerly five-part one-shot has been ordered for a full 12-issue series, allowing us to see a more developed story of Hana and Kenichi.

The story of Ronin Island revolves around two teens, opposite in every aspect. Hana is a poor Korean farm girl, who is no stranger to hard work. Kenichi is the son of a former samurai family, he is Japanese, wealthy, but her equal in skill and study. As the top two of their class, last issue they competed and tied for that honor in their graduation ceremony. However, the island which was a refuge for Japanese, Korean, and Chinese survivors of the Great Wind, a mysterious attack that decimated the mainland, has come under attack.

The island has endured generations of hardship by remaining isolated but when an army of mainland soldiers who represent a shogunate the islanders know nothing about, led by General Sato, lands on their shores we saw that mutated monsters were not far behind. Now, in issue number two we see the fight. The monsters storm the island and samurai and islanders fight, “together in strength.”

But this doesn’t go like you think, even when they start going for the head. The opening of the issue is a monster fight, but it’s not like ones that you’re used to. It’s fresh, and terrifying, in that nothing will stop the mutated, the byōnin. They’re human-like, but they don’t bleed and they don’t stop. Milonogiannis’ art this issue is perfect. It’s dynamic and shows the capability in battle of the Islanders, specifically of Hana. The illustration is horror-lite, with a softness to the byōnin that makes them whimsical while it’s balanced with exposed skulls and loss of limbs.

But when the byōnin win the battle, the Islanders are left to serve the shogun and the samurai that represents him. Now, Hana and Kenichi not only have to fight hordes of monsters, but they also have to fight for freedom under the rule of General Sato. That being said, it isn’t an easy battle since Hana and Kenichi are the farthest from the same page.

Now doing manual labor at the behest of the army, Pak writes the divide between the two extremely well. He is able to show the differences in privilege and between the two. Even when Kenichi points out that he did all the work Hana did in training, she points out that was all the work he did. After training, Hana continued working and Kenichi went home to good food, a family, and comfort.

In this issue, their personalities are more strongly noted. Kenichi is reckless, wanting to fight without weighing the consequences, thinking of himself and his teachers. Hana, on the other hand, is keeping her head down, doing the work, and waiting. In direct opposition, there isn’t a resolution this issue, and I hope there isn’t one for a couple of issues since their differences are building an interesting dynamic.

Overall, Ronin Island #2 is building out a story and a world that I need more of, whether it’s exchanges between Hana and Kenichi or if it’s just Hana cutting her way through byōnin, I’m invested.

Ronin Island #2 is available where comics are sold.

Ronin Island #2
5

TL;DR

Overall, Ronin Island #2 is building out a story and a world that I need more of, whether it’s exchanges between Hana and Kenichi or if it’s just Hana cutting her way through byōnin, I’m invested.