The prelude to the final battle between Itto and Retsudo has begun in a stunning display of what these characters and these creators are capable of. I love Lone Wolf and Cub. At this point in my life, it's a shoe-in for my favorite comic ever because of Koike's ability to deftly balance historical context with a rich, timeless narrative, and Kojima's ability to bring that all to life on the page, as if the people and places themselves were calligraphy in motion.
I don't review every omnibus of Lone Wolf and Cub because they are all excellent, but sometimes a particular collection highlights some of the incredible storytelling and artistic sensibilities of these creators. The tenth Omnibus edition of this series is one such collection, cutting through everything to tell a very simple but extended story of honor and dishonor.
The enduring image in this omnibus, for me, is two swords stuck in the ground in promise of a final battle. The entire series has been building towards the final battle between Lone Wolf Ogami Itto and the man who destroyed his life, Yagyu Retsudo. But there are more manga chapters that happen after this one, so obviously the final battle doesn't happen within these pages. One of the major plot points of this chapter is that intense rain (among some other things) leads to a flood wherein the help of the two warring men is required.
So they lay down their swords and go help.
The imagery of this truce is fairly unambiguous, but as is usual in this series, when something might seem particularly foreign or is especially important to the plot, a character takes the time to explain it to Daigoro so that we learn the samurai way just as he does. It's always been a wonderful plot device, since Daigoro is way more than just a means of explaining things to the reader, and this particular instance and the circumstances surrounding it make for a very special chapter.
Kojima's rendering of the flooding is a surprising but fitting mix of beautiful and haunting. I've always thought that everything Kojima draws looks a little bit like calligraphy, and yet the flooding that happens in this set of chapters is disheveled and so ink-saturated that it's distressing to read.
Seven hundred pages of this for twenty dollars is pretty fantastic. It's hard to be mad at that Frank Miller cover either. This is a special series, and this is one of those volumes where you can open up to almost any page, show someone the art, and convince them this series is worth checking out.
Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Vol. 10 Writer: Kazuo Koike Artist: Goseki Kojima Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $19.99 Release Date: 10/14/15 Format: Trade Paperback, Omnibus