Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Leonardo Fernandez
5 Books, 5 Heroes–1 unforgettable story of heroes pushed to their limits. It is 17th century Japan, a time and place of violent upheaval, wandering Ronin, and mysterious Geisha. Into this strange and dangerous world come Wolverine, Pyslocke, Punisher, Hulk and Deadpool. Five of Marvel’s greatest heroes…as you’ve never seen them before. Each has been wronged by a powerful tyrant. Each has taken a solemn vow… of vengeance! 5 Books, 5 Heroes, 5 Weeks… 1 spell-binding story.
This is it! I usually try and not review the same book more than once, but as this book came to it’s finale I found myself anticipating it’s arrival too much to not make some comments on it’s resolution.
Take a look behind the cut for some thoughts on the wrap-up.
Throughout all of 5 Ronin, we’ve seen the tales of some classic Marvel heroes and heroines as they are re-imagined into feudal Japan. All walked along the same path, seeking revenge against the Daimyo for his actions taken against them, on purpose or not. And in the background of every story, one character has existed as a helpful fool, lazing about like the fool he is. That character? Deadpool. And this story is his issue.
The last issue of 5 Ronin is the only issue not to be narrated by it’s main character. Instead, the issue is mainly narrated by the daimyo, the main villain of the entire series who set each Ronin along their path of destruction. However, he finds himself weary, knowing that his reign is certainly at an end. Cue: the fool, who doesn’t know his own name or where he is, but knows that he – like the others – is obsessed with the death of the daimyo. In all honesty, as far as accurate portrayals of Deadpool go these days, this is honestly about as accurate as you’re going to get. While Deadpool is certainly a character reviling in the realm of slapstick comedy these days, the classic Deadpool of yesteryear was a much more calculated assassin of a character who actually killed people every now and then. Deadpool here, while obviously fitted to the landscape of the time, is that Deadpool once more, and it’s a very welcome read.
This issue definitively ties up all the ends of the story, with every character finding an ending of some form or other. The nice thing about the title is that as much as all these characters are re-imagined, they all end up in places that speak to their normal 616-counterparts. Wolverine in particular has a nice monologue at the end, and Deadpool himself wanders off to continue to be the drunk and underestimated fool of the title. There’s something to be said for a story told in five parts all starring different characters that has this clean of a wrap-up. It’s not a very easy task to make sure that enough threads are presented between the issues to accurately make them match up by the end, but as Milligan has shown with the final issue he clearly made a good roadmap for the story. Milligan effectively channeled different moods for each particular issue, and the Deadpool finale is certainly a good standout in the collection. While all issues work great as one-shots, this issue in particular stands above both as a one-shot and a resolution – and that’s just fantastic.
Milligan created quite a tour-de-force little mini with 5 Ronin, featuring some great artists in every issue. As stylistic as those who came before him have been, Leonardo Fernandez still offers up a fantastic visual accompaniment to Milligan’s script, giving the issue a very cinematic film akin to Kurosawa or Misumi. The final issue is incredibly well paced and has a steady visual flow that leads the reader through the story. As the Daimyo paces through the dark corridors of his home, the reader is filled with a sense of unease and urgency as we wait for Deadpool’s inevitable appearance, and while Milligan has his own distinctive spin on Deadpool’s mania, Fernandez matches that with a set of dueling visuals that help turn Deadpool’s story from the average absurd and nonsensical ramblings of a mad man into that of a tragic character who was pushed into a downward spiral and quite an unfortunate series of events. It’s quite a thing to behold, really.Continued below
Suffice it to say, 5 Ronin has been an absolute treat of a read. This is Marvel’s second recent attempt in the realm of month-long mini’s, and for the second time it has paid off. Milligan crafted a fairly well organized tale of revenge featuring some of Marvel’s biggest characters, and the various artists that have worked on each issue have made this title a must read for fans of both the characters and samurai in general. Hopefully we might see more stories like this in the future, because this is definitely one of the better titles Marvel has put out this month (and will read like a beauty in trade, for that matter).
Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy