Frank Miller – Ronin (often called Frank Miller’s Ronin) was a graphic novel written in the early 1990s. In the story Miller looks to combine is love of myth and legend a la 300, with cyberpunk.
The story leaps across time from medieval Japan to the distant future of New York. The Ronin of the title is looking to revenge his master against a demon. The New York that they fall into owes a lot to the dystopian vision of Mega City One in Judge Dredd. All the money has flowed to capital and most people are living at the edges of society.
Miller explores links between mysticism and technology as it relates to artificial intelligence.
Frank Miller has a grand vision in Ronin; full of interesting ideas, but it feels half-baked. The potential in the story isn’t fulfilled. The worlds that Miller has built in the book feel very one dimensional in nature. That means that the foundation that the story builds on feels insubstantial. Miller tries to paper over the cracks by moving the reader quickly from one ‘cell’ to another.
I think that Ronin isn’t something that fits neatly into a short comic run and a trade paperback, but needs its own franchise to breath and develop further. There is a richness in there waiting to be tapped.
The artwork isn’t as rich as other Frank Miller works such as 300, The Dark Knight Returns or Sin City. Instead it feels like concept sketches rather than a complete work, even the colour panels feel that way. Ronin feels like something it would be worthwhile for the author to revisit and develop further. But at the present time I can only recommend Frank Miller – Ronin for completists, who are fans of Miller’s other works and will overlook this story’s limitations. More book related posts here.