LONE WOLF & CUB OMNIBUS VOL. 2 (Dark Horse, 2013; Softcover)
Collects Lone Wolf and Cub Vols. 3-5 (cover dates and original issue numbers where they issues were originally printed is unknown. I have wasted TONS of time trying to find this stuff out!)
Writer: Kazuo Koike
Artist: Goseki Kojima
This is every bit as good as Volume 1, if not slightly better. I am completely blown away by the increasing depth of the characterization of Ogami Itto (The “Lone Wolf”) and his son Daigoro (the “Cub”). Things in volume one moved slowly and in a way that made it a great read. Things here flow in a circular pattern, like a storm front brewing and getting ready to burst.
I have no idea how these chapters stack up against the original periodical release or “graphic novel” cut, but chapter 7 (Performer) is my favorite in the book. I really enjoyed seeing the developments with Daigoro this time around, especially the grass fire scene. There's some humor in there with the way he interacts with people and it will be interesting to see what happens when he starts speaking.
A lot more background and behind the scenes stuff is shown here, and the motives on all sides are laid bare. The artwork remains stunning. I am not a Manga fan but find the layout and renderings to be incredibly effective. The action sequences are fast paced and brutal. The dialogue is sparse but the story and artwork are of such a caliber that it doesn't bother me. What bothers me is when hands less capable try to co-opt this storytelling technique and use it to stretch out arcs. We are thankfully entering a post-decompression era of storytelling in mainstream American comics.
Needless to say, I will be waiting for Volume 3 with bated breath. While I love my high end hardcover editions I am thankful that value-priced books like this exist. I would have never taken the plunge on this previously unknown quantity on a $50-100 book, but at this price point I took a gamble and it paid off big time.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
This is not your typical Dark Horse Omnibus. Both the dimensions of the book and the materials used are radically different from the rest of the line. This book measures 2.4 x 5 x 7.1 inches (or 6 x 12.8 x 18 cm for my friends in the Metric system using world outside of the United States, Liberia, and Burma) as opposed to the size of the rest of the books in the Dark Horse Omnibus line, which are 1.2 x 5.9 x 9.1 inches (or 3 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm ).
DVD-style Extras included in this book: A four page glossary.
Linework restoration rating: ? out of 5. Your guess is as good as mine. I do not have access to the original single issues or the Dark Horse digests for comparison. I see no pixelation or any other defects. I defer to Manga experts on this one.
Paper rating: 4 out of 5. This has a nice thick pulp paper. Manga has traditionally used cheap paper to help keep costs down. That could be why this stuff sells millions of copies in Japan while our American comics are considered hits if they crack the 100k sales mark.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. This has glued binding, and the spine of the book has a bizarre flexibility to it. It actually rounds inwards when you are reading it. This results in some slight creasing on the spine and marginal inward curve when you're done with the book. The binding seems a little bit stiffer than Vol. 1. There is no creaking of the glue, and there is nice thick band of glue attaching the pages to the cover. It seems highly durable, enough for an OCD 5.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. This has a dull matte finish but is scuff resistant.