Blade of the Immortal Volume 1

Written by Hiroaki Samura
Illustrated by Hiroki Samura
Dark Horse

I had started this series a few years ago but lost track of it over time. I put it on a long-term to-read list and finally got it out again. I think I liked it better then than I do now, but sometimes it's hard to tell on the first trade.

Our protagonist is a disgraced samurai who makes a deal with a strange nun to cleanse his soul by killing 1000 evil people. He does this with the help of some immortal worms that protect him from all harm, making him something of a Wolverine character without an adamantium skeleton.

In this very bloody first trade, we get the set up of the character, learn a bit about what changed him--a tragic accident of circumstance--and start sending him on his way to get to 1000 kills. The stories themselves are not bad, though they seem bound and determined to make sure that women are treated as objects of conquest, a concept I'm not happy with in any shape or form, though apparently the Eisner award folks didn't see it that way.

Samura's line work is pretty, even if the violent action mars this somewhat when he has to do a fight scene with action lines, and some will have a problem with the art being reversed to make it a left-to-right book. But if you're looking for a samurai manga, this should work for you. I'm going to give it another few trades before deciding whether or not to commit to the whole thing.