Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kurosawa * Chandler = "the Zany"

I kind of suspect that Sam Noir: Samurai Detective is one of those books that it's almost pointless to review. Odds are, all I have to do is say: "There is a book called Sam Noir: Samurai Detective" and those of you who might want to seek out such a thing will know immediately. You will wonder if this, at long last, is the piece of your soul that's been missing lo these many years, leaving a tiny rip in the fabric of your life that you didn't even recognize until now, but that is none the less painful for that.

The rest of you will roll your eyes and click over to see what's going on in Funky Winkerbean or France or somewhere. Fair enough.

If your immediate reaction to the concept of a hardboiled Samurai detective existing in some indeterminate time period is - like mine - "Why did it take us all so long to think of this?" then the title is really all you need to know. (Well, that, and it's black and white, a la Sin City, but digitally painted and a bit more lush in spots. Also, there's no strippers.) The humor is a little broad at times, but it's such a lark I couldn't help but be drawn into the story, slight though it may be.

The creators' glee is infectious, and while it doesn't reinvent any wheels it does have a lot of fun with the concept, mostly during Sam's never-ending voiceovers; this is kind of an easy - even lazy - course to follow when playing with the hardboiled genre, but the voiceovers contain some of the best bits (as when Sam, having defeated the giant-but-stupid-and-slow henchman, the creepy-tall-skinny-blind-and-therefore-definitely-scary henchman, wonders to himself where the little sneaky guy who will complete the archetypical goon-squad trio is hiding).

The first trade paperback collects two storylines: In the first, Our Hero is out for venegance after a woman he's been tailing for a mysterious client catches some throwing stars in the back, while the second finds Sam on a "Ronin Holiday". There are Voodoo Priests, Pirate Detectives, and best of all for Sam, lots of rum.

I should warn you: this book is goofy and fun, which may not suit you if you were hoping for some kind of grim, super-bad-ass protagonist in a bloody tale of honor and revenge or some such. There isn't any of that, for the most part.

Well, it is bloody. I mean, Sam makes Beatrix Kiddo look like Ghandi doped to the gills with Thorazine, but it's "funny bloody".

That, or maybe I just need counseling.

No comments: