HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Graphic Depictions Today's Date:

Lone Wolf 2100: Shadows On Saplings

A while back I reviewed Lone Wolf and Cub from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, one of the few manga that I have ever liked and the only manga I've ever shelled out the cash to buy (and am still buying -- damn 26 volumes).

We've recently seen a glut of what the American comics industry is calling "manga-influenced comics," with the already doomed (at least I'm predicting it is) Marvel Tsunami line, as well as the Tokyo Pop! offerings and the lauded Shonen Jump and Raijin Comics.

To tell you the truth, I'm very confused on what exactly companies like Marvel are thinking when they launch these kinds of lines: while Japanese comics work well in Japan (and many work here as well, I know), the entire business structure of Japanese comics is different from America, from the amount of genres that the Japanese comics have, right down to the paper grade they are printed on.

My point is that American comics are having a collective identity crisis. Too many books are trying and failing to emulate manga in hopes of drawing in manga fans. One book (in fact the only book that I've yet found) manages to straddle the manga/American comics fence and actually makes for a nicely done book. That book is Lone Wolf 2100: Shadows On Saplings, written by Mike Kennedy and drawn by Francisco Ruiz Velasco.

Lone Wolf 2100 isn't a retelling of the original story from Lone Wolf and Cub, nor is it an inevitably lame sequel. It is instead, as quoted from the book's foreword, "a respectful re-imagining, that borrows liberally from the original's core concept, but follows it's own path..."

The previous quote is very true in that Lone Wolf 2100 takes the best things from both Japanese comics like its predecessor and American comics: those being Japanese flair for exceptional art (which LWaC was known for) and American storytelling (far better at carrying a consistent, yet non-repetitive plot than Japanese, bar none).

Kennedy tells the story of Itto, an organic android, called EmCons in this future, who has been entrusted with the life of his former master's child, Daisy Ogami. They're on the run from the company that built Itto, as well as trying to survive in a future infested with a virus called the Spore.

The company believes that Itto killed Dr. Ogami and stole his daughter for a group of rebel EmCons, claiming Daisy is the carrier for an even worse virus than the Spore and that Itto is attempting to hand her over to end human life on the planet. Itto must protect Daisy from the paramilitary forces hunting them, as well as the diseased wasteland the world has become, but its true purpose in protecting Daisy has yet to be revealed.

While it does borrow a concept from its predecessor, LW2100 stands on its own. You need not have read LWaC to understand it. The great thing about Kennedy's writing is that he writes a great action book, but manages to slip in all the relevant plot and background for the characters without losing momentum. Itto is first introduced without any background information, and Kennedy expertly slides a flashback sequence or essential exposition into exactly the right places to flesh out the character's background and explain the other players in the book. Itto's main pursuer, Mr. Prescott is a fairly unexplored character, but Kennedy still gives us tidbits of history for him as the book progresses.

Kennedy does also manage to honor Koike's original history-laden story with the writing on this book, as he creates history for a future that hasn't happened yet, including pseudo-scholarly quotes from an unexplained doctor throughout the book.

The art on this book is so damn beautiful I am almost at a loss for words. I know that I've seen Velasco's artwork before, but I can't place where. In a word, it is stunning the way Velasco draws the characters, structures, and technology of LW2100. It's influenced by manga and the original material, but only faintly and I would venture to say that Velasco has probably worked in Europe because his style screams it (and if those Europeans know anything, it's art…… and maybe chocolate making).

He has a masterful hand at the action; every time Itto is tearing into a group of baddies (and I'm being literal when I say "tearing into"), the movements are kinetic and the energy flows from panel to panel, much in the same way Kojima's artwork did in LWaC.

And the character designs this man comes up with are so much fun; he actually remembers that the book is set in Japan and the surrounding islands, and incorporates that into his designs. People are wearing ratty old kimonos and wearing knots in their hair, and not a hip-hugger is to be found.

I like this book and was glad to see Dark Horse actually put out the comic in trade form. I was less happy at the price of $12.95 for what equates to 4 issues of comics. It's also printed in smaller format, which I'm mixed about because I thought the reason for a smaller format was to lower prices, but I could have gotten full sized issues for around the same price. Oh well. I recommend this book for anyone who likes the original Lone Wolf, as well as anyone who likes sci-fi action and post-apocalyptic futures because this book has it all.

Until next time when I write about the tastefully well done homage to the spectacular 1970s comic, Brother Power the Geek (Even I'm laughing and cringing at that one).

Lone Wolf 2100: Shadows on Saplings

Robert Sparling

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites