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‘Pity The Last’
Lone Wolf and Cub #2: Pitiful Osue by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
© 2014 James LaFond
FEB/28/14
1987 First Comics, with the usual strong introduction by Frank Miller and an afterword by Rick Oliver
The story begins from the viewpoint of Osue, meaning the ‘lowest’ or ‘last’ of a housemaid’s servants—the lowest slave of a domestic slave. I actually considered titling this review ‘Housemaid from Hell’. Mrs. Mura, the vicious bitch who runs the house of Master Takizawa, the local Watchman of the Han Clan, is worse than a bitch on wheels—a bitch that wishes she had wheels! It is very cool that Kazuo and Goseki show something of how a household in feudal Japan worked. It also puts the women of Japan in a less passive light than we are accustomed to. Dude, lookout for that hairpin!
Lone Wolf and Cub, it seems to me, is about the soul-crushing hierarchies we are trapped within. The Lone Wolf, Itto Ogami, the ‘Baby Cart Assassin’ is literally the only man to stand outside the hierarchy of his land. He does so because the hierarchy betrayed him, and we identify with him because hierarchy has betrayed us all. This comic team nails the loner as a human archetype—the antihero. I see Itto as something of a Japanese Solomon Kane.
Don’t be too ready for the samurai bodies to start heaping up, because, in this issue—only two into the series—Itto is deathly ill, sick with fever and helpless. The story is carried by his toddler son, Daigoro—a badass, topknotted, diaper-wearing, wakisashi-wielding somebody with ‘life-death eyes’.
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