Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lone Wolf & Cub continue to walk the Assassin's Road, 4 Feb 2004
This review is from: Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 2: The Gateless Barrier: Gateless Barrier v. 2 (Lone Wolf and Cub (Dark Horse)) (Paperback)
There is an obvious shift in what is going on in "The Gateless Barrier," the second volume in the Lone Wolf and Cub epic. When I started this saga I decided I would read one story each night. In the first volume, "The Assassin's Road," there were nine stories, while "The Gateless Barrier" offers up only five tales as the stories take on more depth. You would think that the key story in this transition was "The Assassin's Road," the last story in the first volume and the one where we find out the backstory on Ogami Itto, the Kaishakunin executioner for the Shogun, who has turned Ronin. But there is nothing in this second volume that really follows up on that origin.
Instead, Lone Wolf continues to work as a hired assassin in four of these five stories. The change of pace tale is (12) "Tragic O-Sue," where it is actually young Diagoro who causes trouble; but even then everyone assumes this is just another one of those convoluted ploys used by Lone Wolf to assassin his impervious victim. Diagoro is certainly up to more in that episode in all the others to this point combined and I find some of it farfetched, but I also appreciate the twist on the standard story line.
There are subtler twists in the other stories from writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima as well as the Lone Wolf continues to earn his pay. In (10) "Red Cat" we see the familiar ploy of Ogami Itto allowing himself to be captured to gain access to his target, yet there is still a surprise ending. Then in (11) "The Coming of the Cold" finds the assassin acting in concert with others rather than going it alone to achieve his goal. I know (13) "The Gateless Barrier" is the key story in this volume, with its introspective look into the psyche of the main character, but once again the best story is the last one in the volume, (14) "Winter Flower."
Much is made of the cinematic artwork of Goseki Kojima, which makes a lot of sense because "Winter Flower" looks like an illustrated movie. In a brothel a samurai is killed while making love to a prostitute, while another prostitute commits seppuku immediately afterwards. The official investigating the deaths is troubled by what he finds, especially since it is clear the second prostitute was the daughter of a samurai, who allowed herself to live a degrading life and then killed herself. The reader knows who can make the connection between the two incidents, but the why remains the big mystery. I even appreciate the irony that this story, the best in the series to this point in the saga, is probably the one in which the Lone Wolf appears the least. It is tempting to read more than one story a night, but the road is long and patience is a necessity.
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