Sam Noir: Samurai Detective #1 (Image Comics/Shadowline)

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Snowfall and tears set the stage for this hybrid tale of samurai honor and hard-boiled justice.

Image Comics/Shadowline; 24 Pages B/W; $2.99

(W: Eric Anderson and Manny Trembley; A: Manny Trembley)

Jasmine, a woman as fragile as the flower that shares her name, becomes the object of detective Sam Noir’s affections in Manny Trembley and Eric Anderson’s story of revenge Sam Noir: Samurai Detective. Like Marv in Frank Miller’s Harvey and Eisner award-winning series Sin City, this obsession leads Sam down a path of corruption and betrayal. When Jasmine winds up bleeding to death on Sam’s office floor, he vows to avenge her because, for Sam, this isn’t the first time.

 

Mingling urban landscapes with the quiet gardens of modern Japan, Trembley and Anderson create a striking marriage of two surprisingly similar genres. Past the katanas and trench coats, readers find vulnerable souls and fragile loves that taper to swords’ points. Despite the dizzying number of similes and metaphors in Sam’s cocky narration, Trembley and Anderson never let readers forget the focus—a man with a genuine love. It’s a strange relationship of passion and pity, well-paced and deceptively simple.

 

As if that isn’t enough, there’s also the artwork. Panel after panel, Trembley dazzles readers with expert detailing, gorgeous framing, and impressive dynamics. The storyline flows almost seamlessly from painfully intimate close-ups to sophisticated full-pagers, which Trembley has certainly earned the right to, never letting readers forget the sense of isolation and intimacy that is integral to Sam’s character.

 

Only momentarily do Anderson and Trembley get a bit Velveeta with the dialogue, which remains, for the most part, surprisingly raw. The samurai jargon only helps anchor readers, and even when Trembley is not trying to, he manages to manifest the inherent morbidity of Sam’s world. For readers who want an especially strange experience, turn to the second splash page (the one with Sam walking away from the city), and see if you can spot the unintentional, yet freaky, image (hint: look to the woman in the sky).

Click on the thumbnails on this page to read a five page preview of Sam Noir: Samurai Detective #1

 

 

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