Review: Cimarronin: A Samurai in New Spain #1 (Jet City Comics)

Cimarronin #1 coverNo stranger to digital comics thanks to their purchase of Comixology, Amazon’s own imprint, Jet City Comics was launched as their own attempt to gain a market share, which continues with the first issue of Cimarronin: A Samurai in New Spain #1. But can this book continue to help them fly in terms of selling comics, or will it stall during lift off?

Cimarronin #1 coverPublisher: Jet City Comics/Boom Studios
Writers: Neal Stephenson, Charles C. Mann, Mark Teppo, Ellis Amdur
Artist: Robert Sammelin(art), Kelly Fitzpatrick(colours), Ed Dukeshire(letters)
Price: £1.99 from ComiXology

Cimarronin: A Samurai in New Spain #1 tells the story of Kitazume, a samurai on the verge of committing seppuku for a prior dishonour when he is encountered by his friend Father Luis. Luis has come to him with a request; to investigate who killed a Spanish patrol at a warehouse. However, unknown to Kitazume, Luis’ request requires a lot more of him than to determine the identities of killers as he is subsequently ambushed and placed on a cargo ship bound for Manila. What are the priests plans for the erstwhile robin and in what way do they involve the unknown Manchu linked to the warehouse deaths?

While not groundbreakingly unique compared to some other comics, Cinarronin is, without a doubt, an immensely enjoyable and compelling read from start to finish. The main draw of this is the main characters who, especially the samurai Kitazume, are created with very in depth personalities which are presented in such a way that you can’t help but wonder about their full histories, both separate and shared, prior to this story’s opening. Of course, this doesn’t diminish the books overall plot, which plays out very much like the beginnings of a political thriller with lots of machinations going on and the issue ending with more questions than answers.

Of course, a comic is nothing without art and here it is brought in spades as every panel is terrifically rendered and fantastically detailed, right down to the lines on the samurai’s weathered, battle weary face. In fact, doused with the pale colours, almost every panel feels and looks truly in keeping with the time period portrayed. However, it is the flashback panels which truly astound h ere, with the exquisite use of deep reds and pale Browns depending on the situation being shown, as well as slight deviation in the pencil work to acknowledge the difference, this art team shows it is a force to be reckoned with and elevates Cimarronin in quality tenfold.

That said, the book is not without problems, particularly with the script which is bound to confuse. These include confusion early on during the initial mention of the Manchu and their method of killing soldiers, which came across as very confusing exposition that needed a few reads to fully understand. Then there was Kitazume’s apparent acceptance to certain situations which didn’t seem in keeping with with how the characters had been established prior. Of course, if you can accept these kinds of issues with little worry then they are minor quibble which don’t impede the story as a whole.

pd_review4half“While not  groundbreaking enough to receive full marks, Cinarronin is still a truly outstanding book made from a great script, fantastic art and inhabited by genuinely interesting, three dimensional characters. While it has some flaws in places, these can’t prevent this first installment from being an epic tale which deserves to be read.”

Author: James Blundell