Writer Mike Garley (Dead Roots, The Kill Screen, Eponymous, Adventure Time) teams up with artists Andy W. Clift, Gavin Mitchell, Kirstina Gee and Wynn Ryder, to create The Samurai Slasher – a fifty plus page comic based on about a mythical Samurai warrior who goes on a killer rampage, inspired by the slasher films of the 1980s.
The cover alone, illustrated by Mitchell, with its analogous colour scheme and showcasing said samurai draped in shadow and being surrounded by skulls was more than tantalising enough to give this preview a read-through.
The anthology is separated into several short stories, as follows*:
*Note: The second two stories were just previews and not the full versions of the stories.
1. “The Samurai Slasher”
This first story takes the form of a fake-slasher movie about a “somewhat generic group of youths” (including a dumb blonde, jocks, an innocent virgin and a stoner) who visit a lakeside cabin in the woods during spring break and are then killed off by a mute, masked murderer wielding a sharp weapon. Wait, where have I heard this before?
Basically, Garley just re-wrote Friday the 13th Part II, except replaced a near-indestructible Jason Voorhees killing a bunch of teenagers with a near-indestructible samurai killing a bunch of teenagers. That being said, the samurai twist is the only unique absurdity that saves this story from being just a bland reincarnation, despite its sole reliance on predictable slasher tropes and clichés. Still, it does serve as a ‘bloody’ good introduction to our title character.
Clift’s recreation of the Ben-Day dot aesthetic of 1950s and 1960s comics was an interesting choice and best compliments his visual style; select panels in vivid block colours made best use of this technique and were the most memorable parts of the story. If “The Samurai Slasher” was completely in this bold style, it would more than have made up for the story.
2. The Origins of the Samurai Slasher
An old man on his deathbed tells his overseeing nurse about the legend surrounding the Samurai Slasher and its origins in Feudal Japan, as well as his own connection to the Samurai.
Off the bat, Mitchell’s artwork immediately established the dark, sombre tone of the story whilst stunningly enhancing the graphic violence and combat scenes. His dynamic sequencing and fluid, straightforward approach adds a level of gravitas to the Samurai whilst aiding in its appeal.
Moreover, within a short span, Garley has crafted a fascinating plot that adds glimmers of three dimensional complexity to the Samurai; leaving an enticing taste not just for more backstory behind the Samurai, but also its connections to the old man and his backstory.
3. “The Exhibition of the Samurai Slasher”
Continuing from “The Samurai Slasher”, the Samurai’s body is discovered by an unnamed antiques dealer, who puts him on display for wealthy patrons. However, the Samurai unexpectedly comes back to life to wreak havoc.
The only disappointment about this entry is how brief it was – but then, it was only a preview. It left me chomping at the bit for the rest, so I can’t wait to see it!
4. “The Decimation of the Samurai Slasher”
After the massacre at the exhibition, the Samurai returns to the lake where its body was exhumed, only to be confronted by the army.
Once again, we haven’t gotten the complete story, so suffice it to say it was a great preview. I particularly liked Garley’s unexpected humour through cheesy dialogue:
“This is the end of the line… BUT because I respect your record as a stone-cold killer, I’ll going to give you the choice… surrender now or I’ll be forced to DESTROY YOU.”
Not to mention, the absurdity of bringing a tank to fight a lone samurai.
Despite only being a preview of the full anthology, there is plenty of intrigue with the titular character to keep you reading, and I look forward to seeing the final version.
Find out more about The Samurai Slasher and pre-order your copy on the official Kickstarter page here!