REVIEW: ‘Ronin Island,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ronin Island #3 is published by BOOM! Studios, written by Greg Pak, with art from Giannis Milonogiannis, colors from Irma Kniivila, and lettering by Simon Bowland. When we left our protagonists Hana and Kenichi in issue number two, they were on opposite sides of survival, one focusing on saving the people from byōnin and the other focused on saving their home and people from the Shogun and by extension General Sato.

For decades, the isolation has kept the island safe but as the issues have shown, General Sato didn’t only bring the will of the, he also brought a horde of mutants known as the byōnin. Now, with Sato in control of the island and in desperate need to return to the Shogun, Hana just wants to do what benefits the people, even if that means following Sato’s commands. On the other hand, Kenichi’s pride keeps him in direct opposition, wanting to kill General Sato, as he attempts in issue two.

In the opening of Ronin Island #3, we’re reminded that Hana is a child, asking for someone to take care of her cat. But at the moment she shows she is a child is immediately set against Sato handing her a weapon to reflect her skill, to help her fight. Pak’s writing jerks the audience to attention, these are children with the island on their shoulders.

In Ronin Island #3, Hana and Kenichi must decide if they will leave everything they’ve ever known behind to journey into the mutant-riddled mainland to meet and defend a distant ruler that wants to take their autonomy.  This issue chronicles their trek through the mainland and also offers more information about the Great Wind, and especially Kenichi’s family.

In all honesty, I am in love with Ronin Island #3‘s depth, emotion, and subtly in telling those stories. As I explained, the subtle shift of Hana’s childhood into her warrior life is done quickly and effectively. As this extends into the rest of the issue, walking through the mainland we learn more the mechanics of the Great Wind and the role that the children’s master’s journey before the island.

One of the beautiful things Pak’s writing does as well highlights the differences between Sato and the Islanders, specifically when discussing the important role that Kenichi’s father played in saving people who would become inhabitants of the island. For the island, Kenichi’s father is a hero, for Sato, he’s a traitor.

Ronin Island #3 offers more dynamic art from Milonogiannis that has been showed in the fight scenes of previous issues, specifically the spotlight it places on Hana’s ability to fight as she cuts through many byōnin. Each panel of her fighting feels like its moving and Kniivila’s colors adds weight to the fight, the glow of a fire upping the stakes visually.

But from Hana’s high note comes a gut punch. The Shogun is against her because she’s Korean, giving her work and fighting prowess to Kenichi, who attempts to kill Sato again, and who is stopped by Hana, again. The dynamics of privilege and bigotry among the Shogun is executed well and sets up the dynamics I’m sure that we’ll see as the comic moves towards the middle point of its 12-issue run.

Overall, I highly recommend Ronin Island for its story, for its art, and for its heart.

Ronin Island #3 is available in stores everywhere comics are sold.

Rating: 5/5