16th century Japan. The fates of warlords ebb and flow like tides of blood, none more than the Aragami Clan who follow their lord clad in the ‘Red Devil’ mask into every battle. But when Lord Aragami succumbs to illness, his daughter, the fierce Ketsuko, hatches a plot to save her people, no matter the cost…
Years later, as Ketsuko wanders the heaving battlefields of her ruined homeland, she discovers a chance to avenge the terrible wrong done to her clan, even if it means stepping back onto a road steeped in slaughter.
From writer Sebastian Girner and artist John Bivens comes a blood-drenched love letter to Samurai fiction in a chilling tale of guilt, trauma, and vengeance.
The Devil’s Red Bride #1 takes place during Japan’s Sengoku Jidai, which was marked by near constant civil war, social upheaval, and political turmoil. Samurai warlords and clans fought alongside and against each other for control over Japan in the power vacuum left by the Onin War. This is a very bloody, chaotic period in Japanese history, and serves as a perfect setting for a story of sovereignty, retaliation, and contrition.
The story kicks off with a flashback sequence of Lord Aragami charging his son Isanosuke with taking up the family armor to lead the clan. Flash forward to Isanosuke’s first battle after taking up his fallen father’s mantle. By all accounts, it looks like a complete disaster until the kid springs a clever trap that reverses the tide and wins the day for the Aragami clan.
Sebastian Girner’s script is dark and violent, which sets a fitting tone for the period and content. There are a couple things that I really enjoyed about this first chapter that I’ll save for the next chapter’s write-up in the interest of a spoiler free review.
I was a little hung up on the dialogue in a couple spots. Seems like we flip back and forth between modern English slang and ‘samurai’ speech. There’s one scene in particular, where drunken fighting words read an awful lot like Irish hooligans in a football pub.
Art by John Bivens and Iris Monahan bring a gritty, cinematic feel to the page that works really well for the genre and this story. Reminds me a lot of the work Justin Greenwood and Eric Jones pulled out in The Last Siege. Bivens’ loose linework brings a frenetic energy to the battle and bar fight scenes, but also plays in the intimate acts.
The Devil’s Red Bride #1 is a solid setup issue. The setting is interesting, and Girner lets out just enough line to make the characters feel really familiar and relatable. There is a fantastic, if not slightly telegraphed, twist in the final sequence that promises a very interesting ride going forward.
The Devil’s Red Bride #1, Vault Comics, releases 14 October 2020. Written by Sebastian Girner, art by John Bivens, color by Iris Monahan, letters by Jeff Powell.
When the ‘Red Devil’ Lord Aragami succumbs to illness, his daughter, the fierce Ketsuko, hatches a plot to save her people, no matter the cost…