Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Classics - Usagi Yojimbo #93

   In the past year I've finally started tracking down past issues of the long-running Usagi Yojimbo series, and thanks to comics conventions and eBay, I've almost completed my collection!

   With more than 200 issues in this series, every issue featuring amazing stories and art. To be honest, I feel ashamed that I didn't pick up on it sooner.

   The stories range from emotional confrontations to intense battles to political dramas to murder mysteries to supernatural conflicts - writer / artist / creator Stan Sakai demonstrates an amazing level of maturity and depth with each story.

   The series follows a ronin - a masterless samurai - who roams through Japan seeking for a purpose in life. Usagi isn't perfect, but he's smart, caring and a terrific fighter.

   Over the years he's built up a terrific cast of supporting characters who weave in and out of his life. You never know who will live, who will die, and the stories can take you in dramatic and unexpected directions.

   But perhaps no issue demonstrates the creative potential of this series better than #93 from 2006, in which Usaki and a friend share tea. And that's it.

   Really! The entire issue is a farewell between Usagi and his friend and sometimes fighting companion, the lovely Tomoe. It depicts, in great and loving detail, the formal tea ceremony known as chanoyu.

   It's a sweet and lovely tale, brilliant in its detail and in the emotions bubbling beneath the surface - is romance involved, and can it be expressed in this setting?

   If, like me, you somehow missed this series, you're really missing some terrific tales - some will have you on the edge of your seat, panting for the next chapter - and some, like this issue, will (as the kids say these days) punch you right in the feels.

   Highly, highly recommended!

Grade: A+



No comments: