Saturday, August 16, 2014

"There is still honor in war!" Usagi Yojimbo: Senso#1 review

Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo has been on hiatus since 2012 and won't truly return until next year, but at least some brand-new Usagi material has finally emerged: Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, a six-issue mini-series set about 20 years into the character's future.

For a fan such as I, there's a lot to enjoy in this book - Usagi and his old rhinoceros friend Gen are now employed by the Geishu Clan (something Usagi had avoided in the regular series), Lord Noriyuki is now fully-grown, Jotaro is now an adult warrior and the series' top antagonists Lord Hikiji and Hebi appear in full armour (Hebi's snakey body always makes armour on him a little hysterical to see). Heck, Hikiji appearing on-panel is an awfully rare occurrence!

In the midst of this showdown between Noriyuki & Hikiji's forces, there's a scientist named Takenoko who has developed a turlte-like tank for Noriyuki's side; this is the first hint of the science-fiction elements in this story, which are later enhanced by the arrival of a giant metal cylinder from space, which we readers already know from interviews will contain Martian invaders! Will they have tripods? I can't wait to find out!

Senso#1 is filled almost completely with action sequences, beautifully composed by Sakai. We've seen large battlefield scenes in this series before, but here Sakai has the room to fill the pages with details - it's all too-too great and we know there's more to come! The crash of the Martian cylinder is a particularly well-caught burst of energy. Senso may not be set within the same continuity as the regular Usagi Yojimbo tales, but I'm pleased as punch with this first outing.

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