NEW

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

ANNOUNCEMENT Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard,...

Announcement: New Comic Coming from Outland Entertainment!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Announcing Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino! Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art: Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy...

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered,...

Alethea Kontis on Imposter Syndrome

Earlier this year, I met the only student Katy Kellgren ever had. He told me he just about had to bully her into being his teacher. This amazing, multiple award-winning voice actress with hundreds of audiobooks under her belt truly didn’t believe she knew anything...

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer's headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers...

Fairies with Dark Faces by I.L. Cruz

I like fairies—not a difficult admission for a fantasy writer—and I don’t mean the safe Victorian ones with gossamer wings that spread sparkles when they walk. I mean the ones that steal little children and make Faustian bargains. They were ancient and magnificent and...

Announcement: Launching New Transmedia World, VIKINGVERSE

Announcements Introducing the beginning of a new transmedia project with fiction, comics, and games in development! VIKINGVERSE From a concept created by Ian Sharpe, Vikingverse is going to launch this fall with a novel called All Father Paradox. Here is the line art...

The Secret Origin of “Daughter of Sorrow” by Maurice Broaddus

“Mr. Broaddus, you need to start a Creative Writing Club.” Thus began a four week campaign in which different members of my eighth grade class wore me down and I agreed to run an after school program. We ended up with nearly a dozen intrepid souls in our merry band,...

Knaves Has Funded, and Then Some!

Thanks to our awesome backers and readers, the Kickstarter for our anthology, Knaves, has been a success! Four hundred eighty-nine backers came together and invested $15,342 to make Knaves happen. Not only will this anthology be produced, but the authors will all get...

You Like Me Because I’m a Scoundrel

I remember watching Phantom Menace in the movie theater wondering what the movie was missing. There was awesome Jedi action (and way better choreography than the original trilogy). The music was fantastic. Tatooine looked pretty much the same, and pod racing was...

In this week’s discussion of the library of Barry Blair, I continue talking about his Samurai comic. As I mentioned last week, this comic combines the cyberpunk sensibilities of the time with influences of anime series like Robotech. The 80s gave us the (second) rise of an Eastern martial arts influence on Western comics. In the mainstream you saw comic characters like Daredevil going against ninja warriors, and Wolverine becoming a ronin samurai.

Keep in mind that in 1986 all of this was still fairly exotic stuff. Manga and anime weren’t as prevalent in America as they are today, what stuff made it to American audiences were fan-made translations of anime series and small press publishers who were doing some of the early manga translations. And people like Barry Blair were taking these fringe items and building something new out of them.

Cover

The first character that we meet in Samurai is interestingly the clone of the protagonist of the series. Hotachi is a giant robot pilot, something fairly common in manga and anime, but where Blair makes this unique is the fact that in this world they make clones because regular people are too big to pilot one of the robots. I’m still reading the series, so I don’t know yet if there is a reason for this (besides Blair’s preferences as an artist). I just find the “no, don’t make larger robots, make smaller people” concept to be interesting because it isn’t something that you typically see. Even in anime and manga the preference would be to use teens or younger people as the pilots. Sometimes, the imagination of an artist takes you places that you wouldn’t normally think to go.

The actual samurai of the title of the comic is Toshiro. Toshiro was the head of Intelligence for the spacecraft Naganata, but after an assassination attempt on him lead to the deaths of children instead, he left to pursuit his own life. At some point before then, genetic material was taken from him and the clone Hotachi was made. Now, Shiro (as he is nicknamed) spends his time with Homer, a family friend who had served with Toshiro’s father in the military, and his twin sister Gennin. When the actions of the story draw Toshiro back into the world of danger and intrigue, it is his sister who is against all of it.

Toshiro’s character is something standard in this genre. He is aloof and emotionally detached, trying not to get drawn back into his feelings for Velvet Black, his former lover and the woman who took his place as the head of Intelligence for the Naganata. He is practically a super-soldier, easily dispatching hordes of faceless mooks (unless the story requires otherwise, of course).

Despite these stereotypes, which honestly weren’t quite as stereotypical at the time that Blair made comics, he managed to create a complex story that draws in the reader. While some things will come across as dated to the contemporary reader, overall the quality of the writing and art hold up well for people who have not already read these comics. Anyone who is a fan of vintage cyberpunk stories, or who likes a good action story with an Eastern influence, will find things to enjoy in Barry Blair’s Samurai comics.

 

Christopher Helton writes about pop culture, comics and gaming at his long-running Dorkland! blog, and as a writer for the Bleeding Cool website.

 

Check out last weeks’ posts: Barry Blair 101 by Christopher Helton & Barry Blair: What to read first? by Christopher Helton!