Issue #6 of Usagi Yojimbo: Senso marks the end of Stan Sakai’s flash-forward tale of Martians invading feudal Japan. And while issue #6 delivers awesome art and compelling moments, it also leaves readers with decidedly mixed feelings.
The official description from Dark Horse:
If you saw the last page of the previous issue (and if not, why didn’t you?!), you’ll know that this just might be the most eagerly anticipated Usagi comic of all time! Prepare yourself for the final, titanic battle to decide the fate of Usagi’s world! You will surely cry, but will they be tears of sorrow, of joy . . . or both?
Endings are hard. This is especially true if the story that’s being wrapped up is intense, or especially long, and both these things have been true for Stan Sakai’s epic thirty year run of Usagi Yojimbo. Now, no one is saying that Senso is meant to be seen as the finale of Sakai’s beloved Usagi Yojimbo run, but Sakai’s ending of this particular mini-series is trying hard to cash in on those feelings, and as such, it’s only fair to measure it that way. Overall, Senso tries to balance two major priorities. First, it wants desperately to be fun: the giant robot battle scene, reminiscent of so many old-school Japanese monster films is a joy to see in issue #6. Second, Senso is trying hard to wrap up major continuity questions (and tug the heart strings): characters die — major characters — and yes, there’s a strong push in the issue’s final pages to address the legacy of the last thirty years and how it *might* reverberate through the future. But in trying to do both, Senso’s closure is ultimately underwhelming. Neither priority is every fully explored, and the ending never fully blossoms as a result. The robot battle, and tear-jerk ending, are both, ultimately, rushed.
All this said, the art is gorgeous — jaw dropping so. And once again Sakai proves that he’s one of the most skillful and competent artists working in the industry today. If you don’t find a tattoo worthy panel in this issue, then you haven’t flipped open the cover, because there’s vibrant images on every page. Seeing the giant Robotech version of Usagi in action is worth the cover price alone.
Fans of Sakai will love this elseworld tale, even if they secretly feel it could have been so much more. But make no mistake about it: Stan Sakai is still one of the best things to happen to comics. Ever.