Lone Wolf & Cub Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 302
  • ISBN: 1-56971-503-3
  • Size: Bunko
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Lone Wolf & Cub Vol. #02

By Matthew Alexander     June 20, 2006
Release Date: September 01, 2000

Lone Wolf & Cub Vol.#02
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Kazuo Koike / Artist: Goseki Kojima
Translated by:Dana Lewis
Adapted by:

What They Say
Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Okami in Japan) is acknowledged worldwide for the brilliant writing of series creator Kazuo Koike and the groundbreaking cinematic visuals of the late Goseki Kojima. Creating unforgettable imagery of stark beauty, kinetic fury, and visceral thematic power, the epic samurai adventure has influenced a generation of visual storytellers both in Japan and in the West.

The Review
Lone Wolf and Cub is bunko-sized and printed from left to right. The printing is cleanly reproduced but I was left wondering if some of the confusion I felt for a couple battle scenes were because the title is flipped. The front cover is divided in half vertically with the title on the left and a picture of Itto leaping through the air to chop a priest in half on the right. The back cover has a description of the LWC series and a quote from Pulp Magazine. There is also a black and white picture of Itto tied up with some rope.

There are also a few extras including a note to the reader and a wonderful glossary of terms.

The artwork is very realistic and does a good job expressing authentic human characterization and Kojima uses multiple methods of drawing to convey his ideas. Most of the book is drawn in a standard black and white style and sometimes includes crosshatching for shading and movement. Some of my favorite scenes are when the artist uses what appears to be a charcoal method, resulting in masterfully executed shading. Most of the male characters have very distinctive and often grimy faces, and all the characters faces are drawn in a way that express emotions very well. But I have to admit that I have trouble telling a lot of the women apart, they all seem to have the same face. The panel layout is nothing exciting, but the detail in the backgrounds and interior shots are highly detailed. Kojima also exhibits an impressive ability to translate a real sense of power into his art through the way he depicts the action scenes.

The translation is done well and the text reads smoothly with no discernable grammatical errors, besides a few problems I had with the authenticity of a couple words in this volume. I was delighted to see the translation retain honorifics and Japanese terminology for people of different classes and government titles. I think it really helps maintain a sense of realism for the English audience. The original Japanese SFX has been overlain with an English translation. The overlays are well executed considering the fair amount of retouch needed to accomplish it.

Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Itto continues his dangerous path down the assassins' road. In the first two chapters he puts himself at great risk to accomplish assassinations by willfully walking into well-guarded areas to reach his mark. First he gets himself arrested and placed on death row to reach his victim and expose the real criminal. Then he disguises himself to make his way past three guard gates and into the inner sanctum of the Lord he hopes to assassinate. But I guess having no fear is the only way to make a living as an assassin.

The story takes an interesting path as it changes gear to follow Daigoro as he has his own adventure during a time when Itto is indisposed. Daigoro finds himself alone when he retaliates against an indiscretion by a samurai's young son. This leads to Daigoro being taken prisoner by the servants of the boy's father. The boy's samurai father is no dummy and he quickly figures out that Daigoro must be Itto's son. Interestingly, Daigoro mirrors his father by not crying out as he's beaten repeatedly in an attempt to learn where Itto is hiding. Eventually Daigoro is able to make his escape and retrieve his father's sword so he can go back and seek his revenge. Luckily for Daigoro his father takes up his fight and settles his affairs for him.

Another interesting change in the writing style occurred in the chapter viewed through the eyes of a local policeman. A mysterious prostitute kills herself the same night that a samurai and his wife are found dead in their home. The policeman then follows clues until he finds himself traveling a convoluted trail as he seeks out the reason for the suicide and the culprit of the murder. Eventually all roads do point to our favorite assassin, but it was interesting to see the change up.

Lone Wolf and Cub continues to be episodic but I felt there was much better flow to the stories in this volume. Unfortunately we don't learn anything new about the reason for Itto taking up the mantle of Lone Wolf and walking the assassins' path. However, there is a glimpse of what type of boy Daigoro is becoming. When another boy insults Daigoro he reacts without thinking by hitting the boy, taking his sword from him and striking him down. Unless Daigoro becomes a powerful Lord when he gets older, he had better learn to control his anger because his father won't be around forever.

One other thing I'm curious about is all the money Itto has earned in just two volumes of killing people. His jobs pay anywhere from 250 " 1000 ryo, which is a lot of money by itself but then if you add it up he should have a pretty good stash by now. Where does he keep it? What does he do with it? I guess these questions and those of why Itto became disgraced and how he's going to get his revenge will have to wait.


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