REVIEW: Marvel’s 5 Ronin

Hey everyone! Today, Rek will be reviewing Marvel’s 5 Ronin (2011) written by Peter Milligan and art from Tomm Coker, Dalibor Talajic, Laurence Campbell, Goran Parlov, and Leandro Fernandez. This Marvel title is is currently up for around $28.87 as a paperback on Amazon when this post was written. So, let’s start talking about these Japanese samurai stories!

Again, this was another book that I found at the local bookstore and thought I would give it a shot because it looked different from what I would usually pick up in a comic. Every once in a while, writers take popular characters and displace them out of their world to adapt them into another genre. I don’t really go for these stories because they are usually hit or miss, but I picked it up for less than half the price and thought I’d give it a shot.

I have not read a lot of Peter Milligan in the past, unlike Seppin, but his writing in this book was quite spectacular as the issues unfolded. Each character gets their own respective issue and works to build on this overarching story concerning the tyrannical Daimyo in Feudal Japan. Wolverine (obviously) adapts well into the Japanese storytelling, however; it wasn’t my favorite of the issues. In fact, Hulk’s issue as well as Psyloche’s were more interesting to read in my opinion. Hulk’s was like a kind of Seven Samurai-esque narrative which works surprisingly well. Banner’s lifestyle as a passive monk gives way to the monster when a village is attacked by the Daimyo’s men. Psyloche, on the other hand, is positioned in the heart of the Daimyo’s kingdom as she is adapted to be a concubine vowing vengeance on the man who killed her English father. Both of these stories were amazing to read…

Yet, some stories don’t translate as well. Like I discussed with Wolverine, his story is a bit bizarre and it doesn’t get that much of a satisfying ending. I won’t spoil it, but the Daimyo’s fate is decided by another and his quest for vengeance is never settled.

The Punisher is also adapted, which worked pretty well for the most part. What really stands out in this Punisher issue was the art for me. The dark shadows, brutal slaying of samurai, and the act of suicide is contrasted with bright, pleasant times for the Punisher’s family in the grain fields. Laurence Campbell does an amazing job at painting the environment and showing the tension in each panel. Still, the Punisher’s story is a bit disconnected in the end.

Finally, Deadpool was also adapted. Although, beside the crossing over in each previous story, his character is only somewhat reflected in the Fool. His story is probably one of the more tragic in regards to the other four and is a significantly new take on the character. The art by Leandro Fernandez is brutal at moments when necessary while also creating a colorful setting. Yet, the weight of his character at the end feels a bit like a slight toward the other amazing stories that came before. I suppose the listless feeling at the end sort of mirrors what the wandering Ronin feel after the death of the Daimyo, but I’m not sure it works as a conclusion.

I would also like to mention that David Aja’s cover art is definitely a sure enough reason to grab an issue or two! I mean, take a look for yourself!

Despite that, there were stories in this comic that were surprisingly well adapted for these fan favorite Marvel characters and I’d recommend it to anyone if you see it on sale!


Storytelling:     4

(How good is the story? Does it stand up to others?)

Art:     4.5

(Does it tell the story? Does it work well with the character?)

Importance:     3.9

(Does this story need to be told? Is it helping the Character?)

Character:     4.2

(Is the character represented well? Does the writer understand the character?)

Total:     16.6 / 20



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