Saturday, August 18, 2012

Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 26: Traitors of the EarthUsagi Yojimbo, Vol. 26: Traitors of the Earth by Stan Sakai

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No one joins a series at volume 26 so I'll avoid contextual commentary (I'd suggest vol. 12 Grasscutter as a good introduction point--Sakai is well-skilled as a storyteller by this point and there's enough narrative to stand alone while also enticing the reader to explore earlier volumes).
This volume is composed of shorter stories, a few 2-3 page affairs from Dark Horse anthologies and 1-3 issue story arcs. There's less of the epic feel that infuses Usagi at its best, but the stories deliver the fun, adventurous side of Usagi. "Plot-driven" would be the best description of this volume with characters arriving at precisely the right moment and conclusions being obvious from the start--not due to a deficit of storytelling, but because these are stories relying upon old tropes.
Rather then being stories Sakai needed to tell to further the tale of Usagi, these are short pieces he wanted to tell. They are fun because Sakai is a master of comic storytelling, but they don't inspire further excitement in samurai stories the way other Usagi trades do.

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