A Japanese revenge tale, as told by Americans? Set in Feudal Japan?
Should Americans be writing about Feudal Japan?
Based on ‘Swordsmith Assassin’, the answer is a ‘yes’. It is not an unequivocal ‘yes’, for I do not believe that ‘Swordsmith Assassin’ actually adds much to the genre other than celebrate the likes of ‘Lady Snowblood’ and ‘Lone Wolf & Cub’ – and that is probably the point.
The plot is classic revenge material, with Toshiro Ono – the titular ‘Swordsmith Assassin’ – the focus of the drama. He is a master Swordsmith, who has spent his life making the best swords that have ever been forged and selling them to the highest bidder. But it is this lack of scruples that seals his fate, as his family are killed by a blade of his own making. In the aftermath of his loss, Toshiro realises he must make sure none of his swords ever kill again. To do this, he must track down every sword he has made.
I dived into issue 3 without the benefit of reading 1 & 2. I found the story accessible, though only realised late on in this issue that Ono was relaying his story to a Prussian General, who has the last of his swords. The issue is crammed with subterfuge, love and betrayal, and some great action sequences. The plot moves along quickly, and the issue as a whole was entertaining and made me want to know more about Ono.
As a limited series (4 issues), it is quite difficult to appraise a single issue towards the end of the series, without the benefit of reading the previous issues. However, I recommend Swordsmith Assassin to those who enjoy Japanese Historical drama and those who enjoy revenge tales. In basic terms, if you liked Lone Wolf & Cub, you will find something in this to your taste.
By the way, I love that cover……
‘Swordsmith Assassin’ #3 is out tomorrow (21st October) from Boom!
Boom! Studios kindly provided a digital copy of this issue for review.