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Comics Review: Samurai: Heaven and Earth, Volume 2 by Ron Marz and Luke Ross

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In a prior post, I raved about Samurai: Heaven and Earth and this next comic in the series is no disappointment.

Chapter 1

The samurai Shiro is back and still hunting for his lost love Yoshiko. In Enemies and Allies, Shiro travels to Spain to find the Arab slave trader who sold Yoshiko in the first place. He forces the Arab to join him on his quest for revenge against the Spaniard Don Miguel Ratera (funny last name – in Spanish a ratero or ratera is a thief), and in keeping his vow to find Yoshiko. Shiro tells the Arab of his vow that nothing on Heaven or Earth will keep him from her and together they set off to find them. Meanwhile, Don Miguel is keeping Yoshiko captive as they board a ship to Veracruz.

As in the other comics, there are flashbacks to Shiro's and Yoshiko's life in Japan and some of the images are so heartbreakingly lovely that you have to stop and catch your breath.

The artwork is astounding and I can’t say enough about it. The story has you on the edge of your seat and rooting for Shiro while the artwork has you right in the midst of bloody samurai battles, on the ship, and in the beautiful gardens of Japan. Stunning, stunning, stunning!

Chapter 2

In Land and Sea, the samurai Shiro along with the Arab he has forced into helping him, hunt for Don Miguel Ratera and his love Yoshiko who have boarded a ship bound for Vera Cruz. Shiro and the Arab leave Barcelona and board a ship headed for the Americas in pursuit.

Once they are on board and halfway across the ocean, Shiro finds that the ship Yoshiko was on was captured and the people on it taken to Egypt to be sold. Frustrated at being stuck on a ship with no way out or to Yoshiko, he battles the crew and jumps ship, taking the Arab along with him. Yeah, he takes on an entire armed crew by himself!  Incredible. 

Meanwhile Yoshiko is sold to a pasha and taken away to a harem where she will live out her days. Don Miguel is also sold to the same pasha. Will he find a way to the harem?

It’s a marvelous adventure on the high seas and across the blistering desert sands. The art is amazing, especially the scenes on the ocean. I don’t know how they make the sea look so real but it’s fantastic. You get the feel of a stormy sea, big waves and movement. It’s incredible.

Chapter 3

In Lust and Lies, Shiro and the Arab have washed up on the desert shore. Because Shiro has saved the Arab’s life, he continues to help him as part of repaying his debt. There are again scenes of a loving life with Yoshiko in Japan as Shiro remembers the good times. The two set off to find where Yoshiko has been taken with Shiro determined to get her back at any cost.

Yoshiko is taken to the harem of the pasha and is able to communicate in French with the first wife. She learns that she will spend her life in the harem and is subject to the whims of the pasha. 

While trying to escape, she runs into Don Miguel, who tries to force her to come with him. This is Yoshiko’s chance for revenge and she takes it. She will make Don Miguel pay for what he has done to her and Shiro.

One of the things that makes this series so visually arresting is the contrasts between the countries. On one page you have the burning sun of the desert, on another the cool gardens of Japan overhung with cherry blossoms and on yet another the inside view of a harem. Of course, the artwork is stunning and so realistic that you feel you’re inside those contrasting worlds.

Writer: Ron Marz
Penciller: Luke Ross
Colorist: Rob Schwager

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