5 Ronin: Wolverine and Hulk Issues Comic Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Story 5.5
Art 8.0
Value 4.0
Total 5.8
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: March 2011
Reviewer: Troy Mayes

5.8


5 Ronin: Wolverine and Hulk Issues

Marvel's 5 Ronin mini-series should, by all accounts, be awesome. Wolverine, The Hulk, Deadpool, The Punisher and Psylocke get the Feudal Japan treatment in this series of one-shots. Unfortunately, after the first two issues it’s hard to stay interested.

Wolverine is an obvious choice for a Feudal Japan comic. We’ve already seen the character in Japan, learning the way of the Samurai so his inclusion is expected. The problem is the comic didn't really do anything to surprise you. Wolverine is a ronin whose master was killed at Sekighara. He wonders the countryside contemplating whether he should avenge his master when he is attacked by a masked samurai. From then on the story is very vague and confusing and boils down to a typical revenge tale. You’re not sure whether Wolverine is still a mutant or not and there's a lot of back-story that isn't explained. Sure they don't have to bore you to death with exposition, but a little help would be nice. The ending is also open ended, which is a huge cop out when you get to the Hulk and realize it doesn't continue on. There’s hope that it may pick up in a later issue, but as it stands it was a confusing and disappointing end. 

The Hulk, meanwhile, is not something associated with Japanese culture and going in I was highly optimistic for something new and exciting. While the set-up for the Hulk is good, a troubled warrior monk who becomes a 'monster' on the battlefield, the story is pretty much the Seven Samurai minus six. A local village seeks the help of the Hulk because they are being assaulted by bandits.

What saves the story is the Hulk’s monstrous persona and how that affects the battle. The warriors in the Seven Samurai are rogues, but by the end of the story their honor is restored. The Hulk version takes a slightly different, darker path that makes it more enjoyable to read but in no way does it really relate to the Wolverine tale of the week before and your left wondering what’s the point of this mini-series? Is it just to pump the reader full of samurai movie stereotypes?

With both issues there’s also this odd feeling because you know the characters but you don’t really get a chance to know them in the context of this new story and setting. Everything happens very quickly and any supporting characters are also quickly forgotten.

What holds together the mini-series is the artwork. Different artists tackle the two issues but the end result is still two high quality issues. The action is fierce and bloody, the character designs authentic and highly detailed, environmental effects like fire and rain seem natural and backgrounds fully takeover the art helping the reader engross them in the art. The coloring is reminiscent of the art of the time, although the Wolverine issue has a much darker palette and the rough yet controlled pencil lines in Wolverine suit the action well as its violent and explosive yet there’s a grace and control to it. About the only downside to the art comes from the confusing story of Wolverine where three characters look the same and the action in the Hulk doesn’t quite flow as well as you’d hope.

Overall it’s a shame that the first two issues haven't lived up to their potential. It really feels like each character actually could have done with a 3 issue arc to fully tell their tale but Marvel didn't want to invest that much yet and are just testing the water. I feel like I should let this series go, but with a new issue next week and a new character the slate is wiped clean and hopefully it will be third times a charm. Besides who doesn’t want to see Deadpool back in the day?    






 
 



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