Hana and Kenichi are reunited, but the bandits have joined the Shogun’s forces. It is a cat and mouse game to see who can reach the Island first, as we’ll see in Ronin Island #8 from BOOM! Studios.

Ronin Island #8 ReviewRONIN ISLAND #8

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Amanda LaFranco
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 13, 2019

Previously in Ronin Island: The Shogun’s people are on the move, along with some of his monsters, the Byōnin. The Shogun is delighted with their power and their destruction. When one feeds on a carcass and grows even bigger, he orders one of his men to run in front of it so he can see how fast it is. Appalled, Hana tries to talk to General Sato, but he tells her that the only way to survive is to stay on the Shogun’s good side. Bandits attack, and Hana is surprised when Kenichi is among them. He talked the bandits into attacking the Shogun and his men. After a brief fight with the monster, the Shogun and the leader of the bandits parley – and they agree to join forces.

TOGETHER IN STRENGTH

As Ronin Island #8 opens, General Sato lies on the ground bleeding. At the end of last issue, Hana stabbed him in the chest. His men swear vengeance, but he sees in her something he has lost along the way; she knows what she is fighting for, and she is a samurai. She and Kenichi are fighting their utmost. He wanted her to run; she stayed with him to buy more time for the others who were escaping, others who, despite being commoners, come back to help them. This little group manages to get away and put a little distance between them and the Shogun.

Hana confronts her old friend Kenichi. How can they trust him if he joined the group of bandits? He explains that he was doing what he could to try to protect the Island.

Sato is badly injured. This puts the Shogun in an awkward position – Sato is the only one who knows where the Island is now. On the fly, the Shogun makes Yoshi, the bandit chief, his new general and asks for his advice. Yoshi recommends that he send a platoon of his best soldiers to follow the runaways. The Shogun is canny and doesn’t want to be left with the bandits and without his own men and decides instead to send the Byōnin after them.

The Byōnin approaches after dark. The wind is such that the monster cannot smell them for now. Hana spots a deer and awakens Kenichi, asking him to shoot it when the wind shifts, so the monster has something to go after. That works exactly as planned, but upon grabbing and eating the deer, the Byōnin grows and undergoes some new changes that could mean danger for everyone on the mainland. And in the meantime, someone else approaches the Island.

CAPTURING THE MOMENTS

The art of Ronin Island #8 goes hand in hand with the story beautifully. There is a huge range of action and emotion in this issue, and it is all made clear to us. The fight scenes are dramatic and exciting. Hana wears a long ponytail and I love how it moves with her, emphasizing her moves. When things are looking tough, Hana’s friends come back with so much determination and energy that it is a delight.

The trek Hana and Kenichi make across the countryside is lovely to see. The landscapes vary from lyrical to almost mystical. I love how the light changes, especially as the sun starts to set. Here they come across an old battlefield, now starting to be overgrown with flowers. It’s sobering. It fits beautifully in the moment that Hana, after the adrenalin wears off, realizes that she’s killed two people, two people whom she came to respect. For someone so strong and determined to show so much grief is deeply touching.

There’s also a beautiful bit of symmetry about the Island. When Hana finally falls asleep, she dreams of returning to the Island with her new friends, seeing all the people whom she left behind, and being welcomed. The composition of those scenes is eerily echoed on the final page when the Islanders see people arriving there through the fog.

BOTTOM LINE: A TERRIFICALLY RICH STORY

Ronin Island #8 keeps the tension high and the action moving. The stakes keep getting higher, and Kenichi and Hana are growing by leaps and bounds. I like so much that there is an underlying optimism that characters try to hold onto despite their grim circumstances.


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Ronin Island #8

90%
90%
Terrific!

Hana, Kenichi, and a handful of followers race against time and monsters to get to the Island first!

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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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