The logic behind Mike Garley’s Samurai Slasher is simple: samurais are cool, slasher movies are cool; therefore a comics about a Samurai Slasher must be the coolest thing ever? Well after reading Samurai Slasher Volume 2 then you can’t help but fault Garley’s logic as this is his best set of head-chopping, blood-splattering, undead Japanese warrior stories yet. (With added discos, pagan rituals and even a bit of 3D thrown in for good measure.)
Publisher: Mike Garley Comics
Writer: Mike Garley
Artist: Casper Wijingaard, Cian Tormey, Matt Rooke, R.H. Stewart, Andy W. Clift, Chris Imber, Rachael Stott, Joshua Sherwell, David B Cooper, Jon Scrivens, Michael Stock
Price: TBC from Mike Garly’s Big Cartel Store
After the blood-soaked events of volume 1, the various parts of the savage samurai slasher have been cast to the four corners of the earth. But like in all great genre tales they aren’t kept under lock and key in a secure location, they are allowed to come into the hands of an army general, a rock singer and a drugged up roller disco fan (things couldn’t possibly go wrong, could they?!) So when the parts of his armour begin to take over their new hosts the samurai’s powers begin to rise again and he is free to kill, kill and kill some more!
It’s the brilliantly simple premise of an undead samurai killing machine, mixed with a smart self aware sense of humour, that allows writer Mike Garley the freedom to tell an increasingly eclectic and weird collection stories in Samurai Slasher Volume 2. Instead of worrying about character development, logic holes or continuity crises he goes off on increasingly bizarre flights of fancy and explores really clever and unique ideas in quick, short, punchy stories (most of which involve the samurai murdering people) before moving on to the next idea before the reader gets bored and the idea runs out of juice.
Great examples of this in volume 2, are the brilliant Samurai Slasher vs. Sole Survivors Support Anonymous, where the sole survivors of killing spress come together for a support group (including a survivor from the first Samurai Slasher) however they have forgotten to make it anonymous and so the newly reincarnated samurai can hunt them down and then kill them. Or The Samurai Slasher vs The Cult of Stonehenge, which sees a clueless bunch of pagans inadvertently raise the spirit of the Samurai to bring together his various body parts (and which includes our favourite roster of pagan worshipping idiots since The Profits of Doom!)
This rapid fire approach is aided by a ‘who’s who’ of artists from the UK indie scene, with an even better group of creators than the first volume. Casper Wijingaard’s surreal and dreamlike opener feels like a natural continuation of his briliant neon-infused work in Limbo, while rising star Cian Tormey gets to draw hookers and roller boots in his Scarface-esque tale set in a roller disco. Meanwhile, Reckless Hero’s Chris Imber has an all action episode involving a boxing glove wearing super general which makes the most of his Capcom inspired high impact style. And regular Garley contributor, Andy W Clift has perhaps the most fun story to work on as he creates an amazing 3D adventure which sees the samurai infilitrate a military bunker to get back his katana blade. (For this story, instead of the ’50s inspired style of volume 1 Clift goes for a more contemporary and clean appraoch, which works brilliantly in 3D, but unfortunately relies on too much halftone patterning in 2D and so makes it difficult to read.)
With the samurai vanquished at the end (apologies for the spoilers, but you had to see that coming!), there is a neat twist that leaves things perfectly poised for volume 3, but what will we get? Post-modern introspection? A Samurai in space? A franchise busting team up with another murderous maniac? Whatever we get, Garley’s ideas are not even close to running out of momentum thanks to the rich source material he can pick from, but also thanks to to not relying too heavily on a traditional hero/heroine to hang the story on. If backed up with a roster of top drawer indie artist again it cannot fail to be amazing as this latest instalment, as Samurai Slasher Volume 2 more than lives up to it’s billing as “the best 80s horror movie that never got made!”
Author: Alex Thomas
Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.