Lone Wolf & Cub Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Release Date: Friday, December 01, 2000
Writer/Artist:Story by Kazuo Koike Art by Goseki Kojima
Translated by:Dana Lewis
What They Say
The fourth volume of this ambitious monthly program collects four classic Lone Wolf tales, including one never before seen in America, where little Daigoro searches for his lost father while amazing a well-known samurai with his warrior's eyes and cool demeanor.
Also, the Lone Wolf takes on the sons of the war-bell warden, legions of organized crime bosses, and a mysterious tattooed lady with a dark story and impeccable killing skills. It's bloody and romantic and among the best the comics medium has to offer.
Koike continues to spin an interesting tale about an assassin living in a very detailed and heavily researched historical Japan. Not only is each story entertaining, but I usually learn a couple interesting aspects of feudal Japan along the way. Each volume of this series improves on the one before as Itto caries out assassinations and fends off assassins sent to do him in. Aside from how well researched and detailed the atmosphere for these stories are, I'm really impressed with the fight scenes and the variety of weapons not only Itto but his opponents make use of. Many of Itto's opponents use uncommon weapons such as clubs or various weapons used by ninja, so battles never degenerate into a constant onslaught of samurai versus samurai wielding katana's.
This volume has the usual aspect of Itto carrying out assassinations, but it really shines with one story focusing on his son Daigoro and another about a woman warrior serving a Lord as the sword instructor for the Ladies of the house.
Daigoro has such a unique, if quite sad, childhood that I'm always interested to see what kind of person he'll grow into, if he can live that long. In Parting Frost, Daigoro finds himself hungry and alone, waiting for his father to return from a job. Near starving, Daigoro sets out in search of food and only finds a samurai who recognizes Daigoro as a person intimate with death and apparently unafraid of anything. The samurai is so amazed that he follows Daigoro around and watches how he carries himself in the face of adversity. Seeing Daigoro behave with more bravery than most men, the samurai challenges Itto to a duel figuring the father of a boy like Daigoro must be an amazing warrior.
In the tale Performer, a woman named O-Yuke becomes a Besshiki-Onna, or a sword instructor for the women of a Lord's manor. She is very good with the short sword, but since she is not of noble birth she has to deal with samurai constantly insulting her. She eventually suffers a terrible defeat from a trickster samurai and decides the best way to defeat her opponents is to get horrific tattoos on her back and chest, then battle men bared to the waist. This allows her to shock her opponents just long enough for her to seize the advantage and defeat better skilled warriors. Not to mention the fact the reader gets treated to some curvaceous battle scenes. Needless to say she eventually has to face Itto, but is she able to carry out her revenge against the trickster samurai before crossing blades with Lone Wolf and Cub?
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
Orientation: Left to Right