SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t read the original Lone Wolf and Cub and think you ever will, there are spoilers in this review and in this book. Don’t read on if you want to experience the original without knowing how it will end.
The original Lone Wolf and Cub was one of the break-through manga stories that helped expose Japanese comics to the rest of the world. Set in feudal Japan, it was a timeless tale of a father and son, travelling the countryside, hunting down the murderers of their wife/mother. Written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated throughout by Goseki Kojima, it’s an amazing, brutal, emotional roller coaster of a journey.
The epic series ends with Diagoro, the young boy, standing over the corpse of his father, Ogami Itto, who has died fighting his arch enemy after a battle that left them both mortally wounded. This new series starts immediately, at the moment of the father’s death. The boy has nowhere to go and will not leave his father’s side.
Eventually another Lone Wolf turns up. This man is not Ogami and his wandering motives are unclear, but he sees the boy’s heartbreak, the difficult life he’s had surrounded by violence, and his potential. So he takes Diagoro under his wing, despite the unwarranted attention this brings from his own enemies.
Kazuo Koike suggests in his afterword that it never crossed his mind to reboot the series like this without Goseki Kojima, who died in 2000. As the new Lone Wolf isn’t the old Lone Wolf, neither is Hideki Mori a replaced Goseki Kojima. But this younger artist was deeply influenced by Kojima’s art and does a remarkable job of recreating the artistic spirit of the originals. The story itself is like a metaphor for this relationship.
Koike writes the story pretty straight. It’s clearly intended to pick up directly where the previous books left off, with a similar relationship between its two lead characters and more of the same in store for its fans. But the original Lone Wolf and Cub was a masterpiece of extended graphic literature and we fully expect this sequel to carry on this fine tradition.