He is a ronin, a masterless samurai, a soldier of supernatural skill reduced to the state of a killer for hire. He walks the land with a wooden baby carriage, in which his infant son lay. "Rumour has it that the child himself takes part in the killings. The child of a wolf... is still a wolf." In Western style, this is the story of a Man With No Name travelling formless, endless dusty land in a quest to clear his name. In Japanese style, this is a quest of personal and familial honour. This is Ogami Itto, once executioner to the Shogun, now betrayed and walking the assassin's road in a bid to restore his name and exact necessary vengeance. And awful circumstance dictated that he must take his three-year-old child with him on his descent into hell.
These are seminal comics. Violence in the graphic novel begins with Koike and Kojima. They invent the vocabulary here; slow motion, motion blur, speed and fury and horror. It changed the medium the way Kurosawa changed film. Think of these 300-page books, with their glossaries and notations, as a Criterion DVD release of something central to its artform.
Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in Nature, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.