Hana and Kenichi are reunited and have a shared goal – to get back to the Island before the Shogun can. Will they make it in time? Find out in Ronin Island #9, from BOOM! Studios.

Ronin Island #9 ReviewRONIN ISLAND #9

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Amanda LaFranco
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 8, 2020

Previously in Ronin Island: Hana and Kenichi set aside their differences and fight together to escape from the Shogun and try to reach the Island before he can. Along with them are a handful of people fleeing the Shogun, mostly servant or working-class people that the Shogun viewed as beneath him. The Shogun makes an alliance with Yoshi, the bandit chief, and an uneasy alliance it is, with both of them wondering if they can outsmart the other. Rather than chase the runaways with his soldiers, the Shogun decides to send the Byōnin after them.

SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

At the start of Ronin Island #9, we get another opportunity to look back into the past and learn a little more about Hana. The Island was populated by people from three nations, their only thing in common being that they survived the Great Wind. They’ve started a new community where everyone is equal. At least that’s the story Hana keeps hearing, but her own experience has shown her that this is not really the case. She decides to run away, but Elder Jin finds her and talks with her about how she really belongs there, and how the Island will always be her home.

In the present day, Hana, Kenichi, and their handful of escapees outrace the Byōnin and their spores to make it to the boats. The Island is not all that far away, but as they approach, they are fired upon. Hana and Kenichi call out, explain who their group is, explain what the Shogun is doing, all to no avail. Elder Jin will not let them land. They have been on the mainland; they could all be infected. The Island can only be safe if they keep their quarantine.

They turn the boats around and head back to the mainland. It has the shell of a dead Byōnin on it, but it appears to be dormant. Hana is worn out, hurt that the Island and Elder Jin have rejected them. Kenichi steps up – they’re a new group; they need to make their own circle. But Hana is having none of this. She has been left out all her life and feels left out now. She embraces her anger and decides to turn it against the Shogun.

YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN

The art in Ronin Island #9 captures the bleakness of isolation well. Much of the story takes place on the shores of either the Island or the mainland, or on the water itself. The strait is an exceptionally calm stretch of water, and the beaches are flat. There isn’t a lot of interesting terrain or scenery, but this allows the art to focus more on the characters.

I love the scenes of Hana when she is tiny, trying to head out on her own in a boat. She has learned some hard lessons about prejudice early, and her character is already resolute – or perhaps just stubborn. The Island of her memory looks like a bright, happy place even if she doesn’t feel that she fits in, and I think it makes reaction to being sent away make more sense. She’s lived for this ideal all her life, only to find out that it was a lie all along.

BOTTOM LINE: JUST WHEN YOU THINK THE TIDE HAS TURNED

Ronin Island #9 is another chapter in a story that seems so simple on the surface. The plot is interesting but has never been enormously complicated. Now we find out that the Island has turned into a great big McGuffin, not to mention a metaphor for growing up, and suddenly life gets very complicated indeed.


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Ronin Island #9

77%
77%
Is Anyplace Safe?

Between the Shogun and his Byōnin, can anyplace be safe?

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About Author

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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