Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #3 – Review

Stan Sakai’s mega-masterpiece takes a giant leap forward with this new limited series from Dark Horse. If you’ve ever wondered how much butt an aged Usago Yojimbo might kick, here’s your chance to find out.

Here’s the offical word from Dark Horse:

As Usagi and Tomoe race to warn the town of a marauding Martian war machine, Lord Noriyuki orders an all-out assault against the alien rocket—ending with General Gennosuke and Jotaro in a desperate battle face to face with the extraterrestrial invaders. Be warned—some of your favorite characters will not survive this issue!

The secret is out: this latest limited series from Stan Saki is (essentially) a retelling of H.G. Well’s classic War of the Worlds. This is 24433a text that gets revamped from time to time and so the real joy of issue #3 doesn’t come from the plot, but from the execution. And so far, the execution has been beautiful — which is expected from a master creator like Stan Saki. That said, this issue feels like a set-up to some larger changes Saki might be interested in making in this universe he’s crafted over the last thirty years. When the teaser blurb from Dark Horse says that some favorite characters will die, it’s no joke. Saki is taking an almost scorched earth approach to issue #3, clearing out many major players and in ways that (almost) feel rushed. Might this be a larger set-up for Saki to develop the next generation of warriors? Perhaps, and I hope so, because otherwise it feels like a muffled end to a lifelong journey.

Even if the story occasionally feels rushed, the art does not. Issue #3, in particular, offers gorgeous wide panel shots, panoramic battle scenes, and meticulous detail. In interviews Saki has often shared that he uses Japanese architecture books as resources while drawing, and the payoff to that technique feels huge when watching a three-legged alien cruiser kick apart a village. The art is worth the cover price alone.

Even though issue #3 offers many endings, it feels like a bridge issue. And I want to keep reading no matter where it leads.

 

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Max Delgado is the founder and curator of The Longbox Project (@LongBoxProject), a memory project for comic geeks. You can check it out at www.thelongboxproject.com
  • flippythemaster

    Great review. I love Usagi. Though it’s worth mentioning–it’s Stan SakAi, not Stan Saki.