‘Grim Ketsuko and bumbling Fubei have agreed to lead the arrogant ronin through the woods and over the mountain. But death walks freely in the night, as the dishonored samurai are stalked by shadows of the Black Tongue ninja–and a devil who walks among them.’
In the first chapter of The Devil’s Red Bride, Lord Aragami kicked over, leaving his gentle son Isanosuke at the head of the Aragami Clan. Knowing that her brother will fail and cause the clan to fall, Ketsuko agrees to lead the clan in battle disguised in her father’s armor, while Isanosuke plays the part back at camp. It’s a dangerous arrangement, and they’d probably both be killed if they were discovered, but it solves the issue at hand and allows the clan to remain strong (for the time being).
The Devil’s Red Bride #2 kicks around the timeline, showing us some of Ketsuko’s past victories on the battlefield, while she’s taking on the Black Tongue in storyline present, trying to keep Fubei safe while leading the ronin rabble through the woods.
Sebastian Girner takes a bunch of familiar elements and applies them to Japan’s Sengoku Jidai. We get a little of the background leading up to Ketsuko’s current situation, without giving away too much. She’s obviously out on her own at this point, but is that a result of banishment after being discovered? Did the clan fall under her leadership? Did she end up smashing all the clan’s enemies, leaving Isanosuke in a position to lead the clan in peace?
It’s still very much in the air, but there’s one thing that’s dead certain. Ketsuko fights like a demon unhinged.
John Bivens and Iris Monahan cut loose with the violence in this chapter. Eviscerations, split skulls, and blood everywhere. This is a dark, violent story, and the art team brings a gritty, cinematic feel that works really well for the genre. There’s a desperate tension and frenetic energy, but also just a deep sadness that comes through in the imagery.
The Devil’s Red Bride #1 was an amazing opening salvo, and this second chapter keeps the momentum going. There isn’t a whole lot of physical ground covered in this installment, but there’s a ton of character development. Ketsuko is kind of an Onna-Bugeisha version of Mary Read. Or Jane Canary? I don’t know. It’s fascinating, though.
The Devil’s Red Bride #2, Vault Comics, 18 November 2020. Written by Sebastian Girner, art by John Bivens, color by Iris Monahan, letters by Jeff Powell.
Ketsuko and Fubei have agreed to lead the arrogant ronin through the woods and over the mountain. But death walks freely in the night, as the dishonored samurai are stalked by shadows of the Black Tongue ninja–and a devil who walks among them.