RONIN ISLAND #2 by Greg Pak, Giannis Milonogiannis, and Irma Kniivila
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
RONIN ISLAND #2 jumps headfirst into the chaos of a zombie ogre attack. Greg Pak's meticulous writing sends readers into the chaos where Giannis Milonogiannis and Irma Kniivila's artwork meets us with full force.
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Captivatingly Chaotic

In the first issue of RONIN ISLAND, Greg Pak succinctly introduces audiences to a universe of heroes and monsters. RONIN ISLAND #1 pointedly explores the political aftermath following the destruction of all the major countries in Asia. The BOOM! Studios series takes place on a small island that provides a safe harbor to the resulting refugees. The Island is relatively peaceful until a foreign General arrives, warning them of fierce zombie-ogres called Byonin. Pak’s concise writing compliments Giannis Milonogiannis’ finely detailed artwork that pays homage to comics art from Japan, Korea, and China. While RONIN ISLAND #1 is concise, RONIN ISLAND #2 is explosive and disorderly. Indeed, RONIN ISLAND #2 brilliantly embodies the chaos that results when we let our differences divide us.

RONIN ISLAND #2
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

RONIN ISLAND #2 Isn’t Playing Games

Pak’s young protagonists are as different as can be. Kenichi is the wealthy son of a Japanese samurai. The young man desperately wants to prove he can follow in his father’s footsteps. Meanwhile, Hana is a ruff-and-tumble Korean orphan who takes care of herself and the people around her. Despite their differences, the two are the Island’s best shot at defeating the Byonin. In RONIN ISLAND #2, Kenichi and Hana’s childhood squabbles become deadly serious.

RONIN ISLAND #2 follows a chaotic structure as Kenichi and Hana fight their own desires to one-up each other. Indeed, neither of them alone knows exactly what to do to protect their community. Moreover, as things go quickly from bad to worse, readers will be swept into the chaos alongside Pak’s young heroes.

RONIN ISLAND #2
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Depicting Dark Days

Despite their accompanying violence and gore, one of the best parts of RONIN ISLAND #2 is the ogres. Artist Giannis Milonogiannis’ carefully rendered Byonin are fearsome. Their bodies are covered in rock-like growths and their faces are frozen in zombified grimaces. Colorist Irma Kniivila gives Milonogiannis’ demons unsettling hues of orange and green to add an eery effect.

As Kenichi and Hana start to reevaluate their circumstances and continue to bicker, the artwork matches the rising tension. Indeed, Milonogiannis’ artwork becomes more sparse and Kniivila’s colors become more bleak. The chaos continues to grow, and little by little, the pages darken and a sense of hope wanes. Consequently, readers will sense an atmosphere of desperation.

RONIN ISLAND #2
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Postcolonial Critique?

Pak’s writing makes a resoundingly clear point: if Hana and Kenichi don’t work together, they’ll never defeat the Byonin. Their odds of liberating the island from General Sato are even lower. Wrapped in an apocalyptic monster story, this lesson feels obvious enough. However, there is an undercurrent of social critique that makes RONIN ISLAND even more intriguing than meets the eye. The comic’s two main characters may serve as a metaphor the political relationship between Korea and Japan. However, their relationship is further complicated when a new colonizing entity enters the mix. The threat presented by General Sato and his army seems to suggest a postcolonial critique. Postcolonialism examines the social ramifications of imperialism and colonization.

Prior to the events of the story, the Island society found unity by cultivating relationships between the different Asian refugees. However, when General Sato arrives, he lays claim to their culture and demands loyalty to a new Shogun. This colonizing act results in resistance and anger. Yet, because of the threatening Byonin, the Islanders are left with little choice but to concede to General Sato’s demands. While under Sato’s command, Kenichi and Hana must make a choice. Will they work with Sato to defeat the Byonin? Or will they fight against their new colonizer?

Hana and Kenichi
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Chaos And Resistance In RONIN ISLAND #2

The chaos of RONIN ISLAND #2 does not detract from the comic. Indeed, Pak’s carefully timed writing and Milonogiannis’ fearsome artwork builds excitement. Readers will be swept into the world of Byonin. Like Hana and Kenichi, readers may not know who to trust or where to turn to next. However, as the two protagonists resist each other, they lose the ability to resist the evil around them. Furthermore, the compelling narrative skillfully addresses topics of nationalism and colonization without losing focus. Hopefully, RONIN ISLAND #3 will continue the pace set by the first two issues.

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