Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jorge Lucas
Publisher: Image Comics / Top Cow
Ripclaw practically stinks of Marvel’s Wolverine. He physically resembles the short, surly Canadian, and even has claws. The beginning of Ripclaw #1, for many readers, will also bring to mind Wolverine’s Japanese adventures during the beginning of that character’s own comic line. However, using Ripclaw’s Indian heritage as the lever, the team behind this book has infused the character with something that Wolverine only seems to show intermittently: Regret. Using this as motivation, Ripclaw launches the titular character into a series of adventure that, judging by this first issue, is going to be a fun read.
This first issue finds Ripclaw in the land of the rising sun, walking straight into the jaws of the Japanese underworld. This is the Yakuza of James Bond films, though, one of extremes and recognizable conventions. The bad guy’s lieutenants are numbered instead of named and their lairs are labyrinth constructions littered with deadly traps and numerous, faceless minions. All of this is done in such a way that, much like Ripclaw, it will seem somewhat familiar. However, it’s done with enough flair and style that it still manages to be good fun.
A great example of this is Number 9, the second in command to the Yakuza boss that Ripclaw has come to visit. No. 9 is cut from the honor-bound, bushido cloth of the loyal retainer that is an archetype of so many action stories. However, his dialogue and actions bring him to life on this page in a way that is distinctive. Ripclaw, being the stoic that he is, doesn’t say a great deal in this comic, but that only leaves No. 9 to deliver many of the best lines of the book. The scene where the two meet and their resulting fight is one of the best gunslinger scenes to be shown on a comic’s page in quite some time.
The best scene, appropriately, is the climax when Ripclaw confronts the Yakuza boss he has come to meet. The entire story weaves together quite nicely in this scene. For instance in the beginning, when confronted with a roomful of bad guys, Ripclaw spouts the famous tough guy line, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” The climax shows this isn’t just hyperbole, though, but in fact quite true. The reveal at the end is as delicious as it is sadistic.
This is all nicely brought to the page by the art team. The set pieces change frequently, going from a small Tokyo bar to a traditionally decorated Oriental domicile to places that include fiery pits and spiked pendulums. As ridiculous as they might seem just reading it here, the colors and lines all come together to make it seem almost believable within the book.
While comparisons to such an icon as Wolverine will always haunt Ripclaw, this first issue does a good job of setting the warrior up for his own set of worthy adventures. If you enjoy a good bit of over-the-top adventure with some mean street sensibilities, pick this up.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
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