This volume sees seven stories from Usagi’s life. The first is a humorous tale from his studies with Sensei Katsuichi followed by a two page scene from his travels with Jotaro. Then come five longer tales from unnamed periods of his warrior pilgrimage.
They all sit together quite seamlessly and convey the broad spectrum of samurai themes from demon hunting to duty beyond death. Some minor characters appear in the third story and are used appropriately, but for the rest Usagi is on his own. There is a rich blend of action and thoughtfulness.
The art is great and seems to have more spice than usual. Two-third length double page spreads are Stan’s new toy. These and a true double page spread really give you a visual jolt that you aren’t used to, but is most welcome. There are extreme close-ups and extreme longshots, a little bleed between panels, some excellent perspective and really dramatic poses and lighting. There is a fantastic sequence of an object arcing through the air that is a real work of art – simple and elegant. Even the lettering gets a little jazz when it comes to some magic words. All these techniques are used intelligently to advance the story but you get the feeling there is a lot more to Stan’s greatness than you get to see.
There is a cover gallery, a Groo Vs. Usagi Comic Con strip, and introduction by Walter Simonson. This volume is dedicated to Stan Lee. Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Space Usagi– Stan Sakai and BONUS REVIEW the Art of Usagi Yojimbo – Stan Sakai