Marvel Comics and French comic publisher Soleil have been collaborating for over a year in order to translate French comics into english for the North American audience. One of these titles is Frederic Genet and Jean-Francois Di Giorgio’s Japanese story Samurai: Legend. The series concluded this month with its fourth issue, but the entire series has been an incredible read. Drawing heavily on much of the Japanese history and mythology found within much of our culture, Samurai: Legend does very little new in terms of plot or characters, but brings something familiar and all-round good. But the series proudly displays the “Mature Content” label for nudity and violence, so be warned.
Writer Frederic Genet has crafted a fairly generic story following a stoic, mysterious, and far too quiet Samurai, his loud-mouthed and fairly incompetent friend, and some other characters on their quest to stop the resurrection of a Thirteenth Prophet who wants to take over the Empire. While much of the characters are generic, well, all of them are, and the story is very predictable in every way, Samurai: Legend is still an enjoyable read. Genet basically creates many instances for artist Jean-Francois Di Giorgio’s absolutely gorgeous art, with some humour and intrigue thrown in for good measure. Much of the humour is derived from the Samurai’s incompetent sidekick Shiro, who constantly makes food which is called everything but appetizing despite his faith in his own ability. But as I said, the series shows off its art, which is filled with beautiful landscapes and dramatic action sequences.
Jean-Francois Di Giorgio’s art is breath-taking. His landscapes are just wonderful to look at, almost to the extent where even the smallest speech bubble or sound effect creates a feeling of intrusion. The book is a portfolio of his abilities. Every panel is given a considerable amount of detail, with his legions of armies displaying intricate work all the way to the far background. The colouring also lends itself to the art in very beneficial ways, with the palettes bringing out both the beauty of the landscape and the violence inherent in the wars and individual battles throughout the work. Every panel feels like an individual piece of art that just happens to work together to tell a story.
While this title and the other Soleil comic books translated with Marvel Comics do not represent the French comic book scene, I would recommend looking into these titles for a taste of something rooted outside of the American and British comic book scene to which we in North America are accustomed.
8.5/10 A simple story allowing for breathtaking art. Highly recommended.