Usagi Yojimbo 75

Quick Rating: Classic
Title: Hokashi Part 2

Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai

Over the past two years, Stan Sakai has treated the readers of Usagi Yojimbo to a tremendous series of tales chronicling the travels of the samurai Usagi with his son, Jotaro. I can think of no other comic book that has entertained as well, provoked more thought, or captured the glorious potential of sequential graphics so consistently over the same time. It is a tragedy if you’re not reading it—and not for Stan Sakai or Dark Horse or the comic book industry—for you, my friend, for you.

Am I overstating the quality of Usagi Yojimbo? Picture if you will, the mastery that could come after twenty years of working in this medium. Imagine Alexander Dumas combined with Carl Barks. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (Dum de dum dum. Fingers tapping… more and more impatiently.) You can’t, can you? Well, turn off the television and try again. We’re talking about the person who created the Three Musketeers and then wrote five, four, or more books about them. Now imagine Porthos as a rhinoceros and Athos as a stag—it could work as a pretty cool comic, but you’d have to be awfully talented to pull it off.

And Stan Sakai is awfully talented! Thank heavens—because a samurai rabbit is not going to leap off the page all by itself!

I have to pant fitfully now (exhale, exhale, inhale). I’m just a little giddy.

Now listen carefully– this issue contains the conclusion of the two-part Hokashi storyline. At the end of his travels with young Jotaro, Usagi has spent some time in the company of his former teacher, Katsuichi, and his current student, Shunji. The foursome has encountered some unhappy members of the assassins’ guild. Usagi also must decide if it is time to tell Jotaro that he is the boy’s father since the two will soon be parted for possibly years.

I’m going back into the corner now where it’s dark and quiet. I’ll just be sitting here waiting for the next person to wander past. Shhh, don’t tell them I’m here. Move along. Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me!

May, 2004

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