For a couple of years now I’ve widely considered Boom! Studios to be among the best in the comic book world. Stories like Diesel and Mech Cadet Yu are some of my absolute favorite comic reading experiences, but the major downside to Boom! unlike the big three of DC, Marvel and Image is their lack of quantity. Most Boom! comics aren’t my style and on top of that, the sheer amount of comics they’re putting out just isn’t that high, so comics I love coming out of this company are few and far between. It does however, create more personal hype when a comic like this new Ronan Island miniseries gets announced by the same writer as Mech Cadet Yu. A Feudal Japan storyline in Booms!’ recognizable art style is a total dream come true, so naturally I was instantly on board. I held high hopes for Ronan Island going in, as everyone deserves at least one good wholesome Boom! Studios comic in their life.
The exact location of Ronin Island is a bit of a mystery, but one thing becomes quickly clear: the world has been laid waste to by the Great Wind, which sounds like a massive world-scale war, or perhaps a natural disaster of epic proportions. Regardless, the world has been scattered and ruined, and Ronin Island houses some of the last remnants of tradition and people from Japan, China, and Korea all living together. With a little effort, they’re able to maintain their differences and cultures while also growing together as a single people. Our two main characters: Kenichi and Hana are very different from each other. Kenichi is, I assume Japanese. He comes from a line of Samurai in a wealthy traditionalist family. Hana is an orphaned Korean, who spent her younger years doing farm work. Both are tested in this first issue to prove their worth as warriors of their people and protectors of the island, though their testing is quickly interrupted by an invader: a self proclaimed Shogun who seeks their integration back into the mainland. Doubtful of mainland’s resurgence after the Great Wind, the island’s elders are forced to make a choice: parley with this new foreign entity, or send him back to where he came from and refuse the deal.
There are a few things worth mentioning about Ronin Island, specifically the art style which breaks away just enough from the Boom! norm to look unique while still fitting loosely into that mold. The concept of Ronin Island and its lore that’s set up in this comic is surprisingly well handled despite its lack of text heavy pages. Much of the story is learned through making inferences through the light dialogue, and with a story as simple as Ronin Island I think that’s the best way to handle it. The main characters aren’t exactly award-winningly interesting, but it’s still early in the comic, and much of this first issue focuses on world building rather than deep-diving into the two mc’s. The dynamic between the two is likely what’ll draw your attention, and I think Pak handles their few moments together so far pretty admirably. I have no idea where this comic is really going by the end of it, but it’s art and its world building was good enough to draw me back in, so I look forward to the next 4 issues here, hopefully continuing the same trend.(4 / 5)