Review: Usagi Yojimbo #148
Usagi Yojimbo always carries with it a sense of simplicity. But, it is within this beautiful simplicity that some of the most poignant commentary on human emotion can be found through the eyes of a single wandering ronin.
Usagi Yojimbo #148 opens with Miyamoto Usagi wandering into a tavern to order a hot meal when he sees another samurai, named Mizuna Takashi, who is missing an arm, sitting across the room from him. He later runs into Mizuna again on the outside of the town as he helps a woman being harassed by a group of bandits and, amazed by Mizuna’s abilities, Usagi jumps in to aid his fellow ronin. It is from here that Usagi begins to learn of Mizuna’s past and current struggles. Within this framework, the beautiful simplicity of the series truly shines through. Usagi learns of the strength needed to overcome a handicap, while he also discovers the greed and selfishness of those looking to exploit that same handicap. Mizuna becomes an example of overcoming rash actions and channeling the results into something stronger than you ever were before. It is also a redemption tale of one man over coming his past, not out of revenge but, out of an understanding of what he believes is good and evil. Stan Sakai is able to spin a web of emotions with few words in this issue and nothing is lost as each sentence has a meaning and purpose towards the larger narrative.
The art is equally gorgeously simple. If you have read Usagi Yojimbo before, you know exactly what to expect. The backgrounds and characters are many times the bare minimum needed to convey an idea. The mountains, trees, and town, are all very uncomplicated but, this gives them a certain elegance. The characters expressions are also often over-exaggerated but, it fits in with the world of anthropomorphic Japanese animals that Stan Sakai has created. The art never takes itself to serious unless the occasion calls for it, such as near the end of the issue, and even then heavy emotions are conveyed perfectly in the effortless black and white pages.
Overall, this is another phenomenal issue that deserves to be grouped with any of the other great issues in the Usagi Yojimbo saga. This is a must read for any comic book fan.
Story: Stan Sakai Art: Stan Sakai
Story: 10 Art:8 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review