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Subj: Usagi Yojimbo #112 [SPOILERS]
Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 11:54:59 am EDT
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Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:01:03 am EDT
The 2-part "Whip" storyline opens this issue as wandering ronin Usagi and Gen enjoy a 'not so quiet' meal together after arriving in the new town. As a recap of sorts, the traveling "gambler" Sakura has successfully rescued a young girl from the servitude of a local gang leader, while searching for her missing brother, and now seeks refuge from her new long-eared friend, who she met while on the road after a run-in with some of the local riff-raff (incidentally, Gen and Sakura are already acquaintances). That issue concluded with her barging into Usagi's room and pleading: "Hide us!"
After successfully 'convincing' the gang to leave, Usagi and Gen must mull over a way to help get Sakura and the young girl to her home and mother on the other side of town without being detected by the men searching for them. Meanwhile, suspecting that Usagi and Gen are indeed involved the gang remains congregated below the inn so as to keep a close watch on their movements. Knowing that they lack a lot of options the two samurai fasten some clothes together and make a run for it hoping to deceive and distract the horde from Sakura's escape in the other direction. The move proves successful, in part. Usagi and Gen Manage to buy Sakura and the girl some time, but the gang's leader is a step ahead of them and has already raided the girls home anticipating that it would be their final destination. With the mother bound and captured, and the gang ready for their arrival, we see just how capable Sakura really is with the whip while Usagi and Gen head her way. Long story short, fiercely protecting the girl with her whip, Sakura ultimately finds herself confronting the gang leader in the darkened dwelling. Unable to see her, and vice-versa the gang leader loudly threatens to slice the throat of the girl's mother unless she surrenders, but Sakura's countenance has changed completely and she'll not have him terrorizing them any more. Tracking the boss' whereabouts thanks to his 'incessant' jabbering she makes her way to the beams above him, cracks her whip, uses her leverage and...
Having defeated the gang leader and reunited the young girl with her mother, Sakura humbly turns and bids farewell to resume the search for her long, lost brother. Usagi wishes her good fortune in her search and as she walks away Gen drops a doozy about Sakura: she never had a brother.
(To be continued?)
As for what I thought of the "Whip" storyline? It's probably no surprise that I loved it. This was a fun 2-parter and I appreciated the happy ending! There's an awful lot of sadness to go around in the world Usagi resides and I welcomed this feel good story after so much tragedy the last few story lines. They all have a place of course, but I reckon I just needed a happy ending this time around and was glad when it came. Some nice surprises along the way, an interesting twist at the end, and even a mystery figure that makes not one, not two, but three appearances in the background of this issue.
Look forward to seeing what that's all about.
Additionally, Stan's art is always a feast for the eyes and this issue is certainly no different. If you happen to pick these issues up, check out the line work near the end of issue #112 as we reach the conclusion. The dark shadows and crosshatching create a tense, haunting, mood and I'm once again amazed at what Stan can do with the stark black & white lines to simultaneously create such a simple, but extremely detailed setting for the story. I actually applaud the fact the book is in black and white as I actually think we get a purer representation of Sakai's fantastic artwork this way.
Another fine effort!
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