American Ronin #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on October 06, 2020

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Aco
Colours: Dean White
Letters: Sal Cipriano

Debut issues have a very delicate balancing act to perform to really draw the reader into the story and keep them coming back for more. Not only does the story need to be introduced, both the setting and plot, but it needs to do so without getting bogged down by needless exposition. The reader needs to understand what is going on, but it also needs to tell a story to pull the reader along for the ride. It needs to introduce the characters in a natural way so that we have a good grasp of who they are without simply being told. It’s a lot to get right, and Peter Milligan manages it all with ease in American Ronin #1.

Set in the near future, in a world recognisable as our own but also vastly different, it follows the titular American Ronin as he follows Barrett Cornell, part of the upper echelons of society, as an important figure in one of the pancorps who run the world. In this version of the future it’s no longer governments who run the world, rather it’s massive corporations which span the globe and really dictate how society operates. While corporations expanding and becoming this powerful has been explored before thanks to the characterisation and perspectives used to explore this dystopian future it feels like a new concept to explore.

Without spoilers it’s difficult to go into the plot in any great detail but this story will hook readers from the first page, where Milligan introduces us to a Hong Kong which is both recognisable and alien to readers. The American Ronin has access to technology which gives him an ability to connect and empathise with his targets. It’s a really unique concept which is just dying to be explored in more detail, and makes for an interesting hook. It adds a psychological element to the story which helps to set it apart from other comics. While there are still plenty of mysteries to be explored, namely the Ronin’s motivations and goals, there is so much here for the reader to keep them coming back for more.

Aco has done an incredible job with the art. The Hong Kong he’s brought to life here is recognisable as a world very like ours, with only subtle differences. Watching the Ronin stalk his pray is exciting, the fight scenes are swift and violent. One of the biggest focuses of the comic is getting into the head of the Ronin’s target, Cornell, and this is really well done with some clever techniques from Aco which manage this. There is plenty to like about his art. Then there’s Dean White’s colours which are the final touch to bringing Aco’s art to life.

An exciting debut issue, it introduces readers to a near future world ruled by massive corporations, and promises characters who are more than just two dimensional cardboard cut outs. The empathy talent that the American Ronin has is both unique and interesting, and promises to make for some excellent storytelling opportunities as the series progresses. A debut that readers won’t want to miss.

Our Score:


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