When I sat down to start reading Lone Wolf and Cub, I wasn't entirely certain what to expect. I was vaguely aware of the movies based on it, most famously the movie Shogun Assassin (which was actually an American effort that spliced together parts of two of the original Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub movies). I knew that it was considered a 'classic', though I did not realize that it was from the 1970s.
What I was absolutely unprepared for is just how good Lone Wolf and Cub is. Written by Kazuo Koike with art by Goseki Kojima, this is a story set in the Tokugawa era of Japan. Ogami Itto, executioner for the Japanese shogun himself, faces terrible betrayal by the Ura-Yagyu clan, killing his wife and household and framing him for treason against the Shogun. Vowing vengeance, Itto takes the road of the assassin, become a killer for hire to any who would pay his fee. He brings with him his seemingly unstoppable skill with a blade, his now three-year-old son Daigoro, and a baby cart that conceals multiple tools of death and destruction.
Itto carves a path of utter destruction, as his skill is seemingly unparalleled in all of Japan. Yet alongside the bloody and violent action is a dedication to historical accuracy both in its portrayal of society and in the artistic depiction of the clothes and setting. These elements combine to create something that is not just simply an excellent story, or an excellent manga, but an excellent work of art and something that anyone with a love of graphic novels, samurai, Tokugawa Japan, or even just excellent action stories should check out. We even just received some brand new omnibus editions of the early volumes, so you can check out big chunks of the story in one convenient book!
Tim @ Central