Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls #1 Review
“Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls” is the brainchild of Shane and Paul Bookman, two comic creators who get themselves smashingly rich and subsequently into just a bit of trouble in “Drawing Blood Spilled Ink.”
Just a bit.
Story: Kevin Eastman & David Avallone
Script: David Avallone
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Troy Little
Colors: Tomi Varga
Publisher: Kevin Eastman Studios
“Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls” is a delightful, joyous exercise. It’s not every day a creator gets to do a send-up of his own work, and Eastman and Avallone demonstrate a keen understanding of the original work’s appeal and the sense of humor required to pull off a compelling tie-in like this one. The Ragdolls are cute and goofy without feeling fake, there are tons of references and homages to TMNT and the comics industry at large, and a lot of care and attention goes into the story.
Tezuka, Miyazaki and Otomo are three walking, talking, slicing and dicing cats who’re taken in by a loving pair of sushi restaurant owners after their secret lab is invaded. The sisters are out for blood after their father is brutally murdered by Overdog and his ghoulish minions. Avallone’s script in the secret origin portion of the book is especially well done, as Miyazaki recounts their story entirely in haiku, but the whole book features good characterization and dialogue with just the right amount of camp. As the book’s a tie-in, Eastman and Avallone could have relied solely on pastiche to get them through, but there’s enough meat in “Ragdolls” to not only sell it as a standalone issue but give it some weight in the world of “Drawing Blood.” It’s easy to see why Shane made millions off of the franchise and why certain scenes transpire the way they do in that universe, given the Ragdolls’ nobility and heart.
Eastman handles layouts, which feature intricate panels that are sometimes a bit too small for the level of detail Little delivers in the final art. That said, the Ragdolls are distinct from each other and possess a perfect balance of cartoony softness and edginess. They’re visually compelling in how they move, interact with each other and tell their own stories. Little peppers the book with all sorts of small, delightful details, down to the individual helmets on the Dogs and the wonderful indie comix-style sound effects during the many battle scenes. Varga’s colors are similarly considered, with a lot of very precise gradients, keen attention to light sources and excellent accents drawn through each page. The sepia tones and subtle tinges of color in the origin story are beautiful. However, while a more muted palette helps Little’s art shine, pages that feature a lot of action can get confusing when that subtlety’s confined to a smaller space.
Esposito’s lettering in this book is a delight, hands down. The style’s carried over into “Drawing Blood Spilled Ink” when the Ragdolls make their appearance there, and it’s a treat to read an entire book done in the same vein. Any book that makes you pause to try to figure out if it’s hand-lettered or not – when it’s legible – is a good book in our digital reality, and the font style very much suits both the narrative tone and the overall send-up. I’ll be frank: in reading it, I’m not entirely sure, and for me that’s a fun scavenger hunt.
“Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls” #1 is a fun and engaging comic that helps build out “Drawing Blood Spilled Ink” and stands alone as an effective story. Eastman and Avallone are doing fun things with this universe, and Little, Varga and Esposito add the visual sophistication this book needs to succeed.
Pick up a copy wherever fine comics are sold. Anyone else hungry for sushi?