Usagi Yojimbo is back, but it’s 20 years into the future which means a whole new version of Yojimbo you’ve never seen. Is it good?
Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
It’s the future and Yojimbo is no longer a lowly ronin but a general for Lord Noriyuki. He fights against the treacherous Lord Hikiji. The story is rather basic, but the biggest development is Yojimbo’s relationship with his son Jotaro. Will Yojimbo fight with honor, or break the rules to ensure his son makes it out alive?
Emotional moment for Yojimbo.
Written by creator Stan Sakai, the story in this issue is very much setup of the cast of characters. We do get plenty of battle scenes and there are some secret weapons (a giant turtle, for instance) that make this a little more complicated of a battle than a standard horde-and-sword sort of affair. It’s not much of a spoiler considering Dark Horse reveals it right there in the issue summary, but the issue ends with a giant rocket landing in the middle of the battlefield. The fact that they mention this in the summary is telling, as the issue doesn’t cover much ground beyond setting up the series. That means the art and action needs to be the driving force when it comes to action. It works, and while the Yojimbo and son angle is interesting, it’s all that there really is to sink your teeth into.
Grabbing your throat as you die is a very old school cartoon sort of thing, isn’t it?
Sakai’s art is exceptional in its own right. Everyone has seen Yojimbo I’m sure, but if you haven’t you’ll be privy to some sweet inks and lines. There is no color; ostensibly to let the lines speak for themselves, and speak they do. The costumes seem to get the most detail with backgrounds and character design simplistic. It creates a sort of poetic story as it’s simple not only in its story beats, but in its look and feel.
“Demon rabbit, Trix are for kids!”
Is It Good?
This is a severely middling first issue largely because it’s focused on setting up the last page reveal. That said, the art is clean and strong as always and the basic storyline is just as clear.
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