Review–Samurai meets steampunk in “Toshiro”

Toshiro cover

A steampunk robot samurai.  And Civil War era zombies.

It’s the Dark Horse June 2014 release of Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Kato, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo) and Janusz Pawlak’s new graphic novel, Toshiro.  We’ve discussed Nitz’s writing plenty of times here at borgToshiro is Pawlak’s first published work in comics.

You will love Nitz’s creation story for this mecha-samurai who shares a name with the actor who played one of the most famous samurai on film (Toshirô Mifune’s Kikuchiyo in The Seven Samurai).  Toshiro is a creation of the Northern forces in the Civil War, a self-aware, living robot with a steam-valved heart.  He’s an American-built super-soldier, sold to Japan as the highest bidder.  “Raised” with Japanese traditions and old world values, he winds up in Manchester, England, 1867, with an equally deadly, and maybe wiser, partner.


Toshiro knows he is machine, yet he reacts as if he is a true samurai.

This is a steampunk buddy cop story, with roots in a story out of a spaghetti Western.  Here a Zorro-esque, anti-hero has a tough-as-nails partner and they live in a world at war, but with incredible tools of battle well ahead of their time.

Polish artist Pawlak’s work is something out of a Quentin Tarantino novel, yet Tarantino’s blood and guts is kids’ stuff compared to Toshiro slicing heads with his katana.


Fans of Moritat’s renderings of Jonah Hex and 1800s Gotham City in the New 52’s All-Star Western will fit right in with Pawlak’s world of cobblestones, bricks, and shadows.  Even better, the well-choreographed battle scenes with the British militia could put Toshiro right up against the bloody Spartan battles in Frank Miller’s 300.


The end leaves plenty of opportunity for more Toshiro stories.  Who wouldn’t want to see a prequel story showing the beginnings of Toshiro and a twin counterpart?

Look for Toshiro from Dark Horse Comics, at comic book stores everywhere June 4, 2014, or buy it now from here.

C.J. Bunce

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