By Stan Sakai
This week sees the beginning of an all new Usagi Yojimbo adventure from creator, Eisner award winner and all around comic book legend, Stan Sakai. This six issue mini-series takes place 20 years into Usagi’s future during an epic war that is interrupted by a random spaceship crashing in the middle of the battlefield. This series, that also celebrates 30 years of Usagi Yojimbo stories, is an excellent start for both old and new readers alike.
Let’s start this off by saying this review is written from the point of view of someone who is familiar with Usagi Yojimbo but hasn’t really read a lot of his stories. By the time I had fully entered into comics the series just seemed arduous and expensive to get into. Now if Dark Horse ever decides to do omnibus releases for Usagi, you can count me in for sure after reading this.
As a newcomer to Sakai’s ancient Japanese era anamorphic universe, this issue did not make me feel lost as I had feared. Aside from some of the characters’ history together, nothing felt like it was going over my head and Sakai made it simple to just jump right into the story. Usagi Yojimbo Senso‘s first issue mostly introduces us to Usagi’s world 20 years in the future and also some background into the war and the characters involved. Handling the issue in this manner was a great way to start things off so new readers quickly feel comfortable and things don’t drag or seem repetitive for longtime readers.
Most people who have even a slight interest in the comic community should be at least familiar with Sakai’s artistic style. There is a beautiful simplicity to his art that is reminiscent of a sketchbook style of cartoon. However it’s still quite distinctive and has become almost iconic to Sakai’s legacy. Usagi’s world is one filled with anamorphic characters, so many characters are a variety of different animals from the likes of Usagi being a rabbit to other characters who are an assortment of pandas, cats and even snakes. This simple twist makes Usagi’s world that much more enjoyable to read. Mr. Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series has also almost always been a black and white comic, which can also feel similar to a manga when reading it.
This was a fun comic to just spontaneously pick up and delve into. When going into a long running series the common thought is that you will feel lost and be immediately disinterested. However this is not the case with Usagi Yojimbo Senso. In fact after reading this issue it makes you immediately interested to go back and check out older volumes of the series. The smart part is that this is only the first issue and we haven’t even seen how crazy this will get now that you add aliens to the mix.