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Ronin is a comic book limited series published by DC Comics. The series was written and drawn by Frank Miller with water colors by Lynn Varley. The series publication running between 1983 and 1984 with a total of six volumes.
The plot of the story follows a Samurai who is charged with defending his master, Ozaki. His master is assassinated in the night by a demon however, in revenge for stealing the sword of the demon's master: Agat. The spirit of the master grants the now Ronin the sword, the only tool capable of slaying the demon lord it had been stolen from. The Ronin then goes on a journey to slay the demon, who on his dying breath curses him to the same eternal prison as him, within the sword. The story then cuts to a near-future dystopic New York, a now lawless wasteland.
What is left of civilized New York lives inside of a massive complex called Aquarius, which is owned by the ominous Aquarius Corporation and run by three people: Peter McKenna, a scientist who invented biocircuitry, Casey McKenna, the head of security who is also Peter's wife, and Mr. Taggart, the corporate head of Aquarius. The city is powered by Virgo, a sentient computer who is gaining more and more control over Aquarius. Finally, we are introduced to young Billy Chalis, an autistic man with no limbs who seems to have telekinetic powers. Unlocking the key to his powers may provide a brighter future for Aquarius and civilization as a whole, according to Peter and Virgo.
Meanwhile, by unknown means, the ancient Japanese sword is discovered, releasing Agat and the Ronin. They continue their blood feud throughout Aquarius and across the wastelands of New York. Casey looks into the matter, eventually discovering the truth behind it all.
The series takes many influences from Manga, and is stated to have been inspired partly by Lone Wolf and Cub. Ronin also holds the distinction of having been printed on Baxter paper stock similar to Camelot 3000, as well as having no advertisements.
Not to be confused with the 1998 film Ronin.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Can't be a samurai story without one.
- After the End: New York.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: What's left of civilized New York is run by an AI computer. It doesn't turn out well.
- Author Appeal: This is basically Frank Miller's love letter to manga/anime both past and (at the time) present. We see elements of everything from Lone Wolf and Cub to Akira.
- Biker Babe: But she's a Nazi. "Babe" might also be a stretch.
- Badass Back: Instead of the standard sword-under-shoulder move, Ronin actually does the Deliberate Injury Gambit move by stabbing himself; something that is normally relegated to characters with a Healing Factor. He takes it damn well, though.
- Badass Biker: Since it's post-apocalyptic, the typical biker gangs are out in full force.
- Badass Normal: Casey.
- Body Horror: Peter after being turned into a half-man, half-machine by Virgo.
- Decoy Protagonist: Plays with it a bit.
- Disability Superpower: Billy, in a way.
- Disc One Final Boss: It's apparent fairly early on that Agat isn't going to be the main villain of the story and that Virgo is the Big Bad. One could even argue that Billy was the final villain.
- Eldritch Abomination: Agat
- Equal Opportunity Evil: Averted with the biker gangs who are seperated by race.
- Eternal English: Averted. Ronin is an ancient Japanese samurai in a futuristic America. He doesn't speak a word of English.
- Everything's Better with Samurai
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: An ancient samurai stuck in an apocalyptic future? He should fit right in.
- Foreshadowing: The Japanese businessmen.
- Gainax Ending: Virgo is destroyed, possibly damning the entire human race. Casey certainly has little to no protection in the harsh New York environment and then Ronin comes marching through the flames. Not only is the Ronin identity supposed to be dead but Billy's fate certainly seemed sealed as well since he commited seppuku and was left in an exploding building. Not only that, with Virgo gone, who is controlling him? His blank stare at Casey doesn't make things seem any better. The end.
- Genre Busting: Is it a period piece martial arts epic? Fantasy? Cyber-punk? ... What?
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Let's start putting what little human civilization has left in the hands of AI computers who have the ability to practically create life. Sounds great!
- Heroic Bystander: Billy.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Billy
- It Got Worse: It says something when the main characters start off in an apocalyptic setting... and it gets worse from there.
- I See Them, Too
- Love Hurts: Billy's feelings for Casey.
- Mega Corp: The Aquarius Corporation
- Mind Screw: The ending and The Reveal.
- Mutant: It wouldn't be a good After the End story without a few.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Casey, Peter, and Taggart get this way at various times over the creation of Virgo.
- No Name Given: Ronin Although the reader doesn't know he's actually Billy Chalis until towards the end, the Ronin "character" is never given a name.
- Old Master: Ozaki
- Organic Technology: Peter and Virgo's subject of choice.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: The gangs are sperated by race and use racial slurs against one another. Not surprisingly, Ronin gets a few thrown his way when he shows up.
- Pillars of Moral Character: Ronin seems to live by this.
- Reality Warper: For all intents and purposes, Billy.
- Ronin: Obviously.
- Seppuku: One of the more accurate depictions in Western media.
- Shape Shifter: Agat.
- Show Within a Show: Or in this case, a show within a comic. Billy likes to watch TV a lot.
- Single Tear: A punk tricks Ronin into fighting a rival gang. When Ronin realizes his mistake, he tries his best to apologize and avoid further conflict. At this point, the gang wants to continue the fight, so Ronin kills them while shedding one of these.
- Spiritual Successor: Samurai Jack has more than a passing resemblance to this comic.
- Supporting Protagonist: One could easily argue that Casey fits this trope. Much of the action revolves around her. Billy too, considering he's little more than a background character until the revelation at the end that he was the main character the whole time.
- The Reveal: Ronin, Agat, Ozaki, and the sword don't actually exist. It was all a part of the TV show Billy watched in his free time. Virgo used Billy's powers and mental state to make him turn his fantasy into a reality, essentially turning himself into a hero and creating his own villain using his powers and Virgo's biotech. That way, she could easily manipulate him into doing her bidding. This would eventually lead to the destruction of mankind and the emergence of biotechnology as the dominant lifeform.
- Those Wacky Nazis: It is Frank Miller, afterall.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the beginning, the Ronin throws his sword into the chest of a demon. His master berates him but Ronin quickly points out that he (the master) still has his.
- Translation Convention: Ronin and Ozaki speak English during the scenes in ancient Japan. Although the reader must just be reading the English-dubbed voices.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: Peter and Billy.
- Wretched Hive: Basically, anything outside of Aquarius.