Toshiro Ono, the Swordsmith Assassin finishes telling his story to General Renier, of the Prussian army. Has he moved the General to relinquish his final sword, or is there more to the story yet to be told?
Before we start this third issue of Boom! Studiosâ€™ Swordsmith Assassin, letâ€™s take a quick look at the previous two issues.
West Prussia, 1870, master sword maker Toshiro Ono has tracked down the Prussian General Rennier in his quest to gather all of the swords he has made. Recognizing this work, General Rennier invites Ono into his tent for a drink. He explains that his has traveled thousands of miles to retrieve his sword; he tells the General that he has nothing to offer in return, except for his story.
And what a story it is. The first issue tells how his father, Hideko Ono, was the greatest sword smiths in the land. He taught Toshiro everything he could, but could not make his son understand the moral dilemma of making a thing that takes a life. Selling his swords to the highest bidder, he does not understand his father until after his death and his own family where killed by an unscrupulous man who had used one of his swords. Gaining revenge on his familyâ€™s murderer using a flawed sword he had made, he sets out to find all the swords he sold. By the second issue, he has come upon a swordsman named Musahsi, who was the only honorable man to buy one of his swords. Recognizing the righteousness of his mission, Musashi trains the swordsmith in the art of the sword. When it comes time for his training to be done, he falls before the blade of Ono. He continues his quest until the only sword that is left is the last sword, which had originally been a gift to the Shogun; a sword that General Rennier now owns.
In this, the third issue, he tells General Rennier the rest of his story, and it is one of new found love, and of failure, and yes, of revenge. Sword fights, love lost, and more populate the closing of this tale. As he follows the path of the sword from the Shogun to Rennierâ€™s hands, Ono ends his tale, or does he? Will the General take the story as payment and return Onoâ€™s final sword to him, or does Ono have yet another twist in his tale of vengeance and redemption?
If it seems that the story can be easily summarized, it can. Despite being a quick read, I read all three issues in a matter of minutes the first time through — it is a good story. If you have any knowledge of Japanese history, you will recognize the time period in this story, and even at least one of the major players. Cosby and Nelson have crafted a good story here, and there are several little twists in this issue that might catch you off guard.
Regarding the art, for this to have been done is a time in Japan that was subject to such beauty, the art seems bare and sketchy. Donâ€™t get me wrong, it does tell the story and there are some nice sequences. My only complaint would be that I would have loved to have seen a more technical style here. I think of movies such as The Last Samurai and I wonder why everything has to be so dark. It seems as if it is always winter or fall, which does fit the mood of the story, but dampens the narrative. We have such beautiful covers by Dennis Callero and another by John Nofsinger, that the interiors suffer somewhat in comparison. Ayhan Hayrulaâ€™s art does the job, and gets the story across, but it does not seem to shoot for much more.
I found that while I was reading the issue, I felt as if I was being told a true tale of ancient Japan. And there lies another problem; I actually felt like I was being told a tale, not reading it. It was being told in a rather dry manner, and whereas normally the art would pick up and give the emotion, here it just seemed a lacking. I was not drawn in wondering how Ono could complete his quest, and that is a problem. I give Swordsmith Assassin #3 a solid 2.5 out of 5 stars. It is an average book, that just misses the boat on being so much more. Maybe the fourth and final issue will pull it all together better.
Boom! Studios provided a digital review copy of this issue for review.