Comics You Should Read: Space Usagi

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One of the best comics on the market is Usagi Yojimbo, the series by Stan Sakai about a rabbit ronin in feudal Japan named Miyamato Usagi. It is a truly amazing comic, and I did an earlier review of it, which I urge you to read here. But today, I will be talking about a spinoff of the series set in the far future and known as Space Usagi. Space Usagi is both a tribute to the fiction depicting samurai as well as scifi classics like Star Wars and Sakai tells the stories masterfully. Space Usagi was published as three miniseries, which were later all collected in one volume and later collected again with other spinoff work. It is very different from the main series but this allowed it to develop its own identity and go places the original comic could not.

Initially a story about protecting the heir to his clan, the story gradually expands into heist territory and also that of revenge. There are many similarities to the more recent Star Wars films, which is rather amusing since Space Usagi was published years before even The Phantom Menace came out, and yet did the concepts better. Sakai was clearly having a lot of fun with the project, possibly due to having a lot more freedom in terms of continuity. Yes characters appear who are counterparts to those of the original series but they are not exactly the same, and the changes are well done and help everyone stand out better. Sakai also went to some much darker places than in the main series, places I did not expect when I first read the comic. I would not say this is a darker and edgier version though, but once again, a comic in which Sakai was not restrained as much and thus free to explore more what if ideas.

There is still plenty of humor in the comics to counter the seriousness, and this has always been a strength of Sakai’s work. Balancing humor and dramatic writing is never easy but Sakai makes it look effortless. That being said, the comic also goes more in detail about what the fallout is like for the events Usagi goes through, especially when faced with loss and betrayal. There are some legitimately sad moments as much as there are humorous moments and I daresay this is some of Sakai’s best work. I know I haven’t touched on much of the plot but the fact is, I do not wish to spoil it because I want you all to read it yourself.

There was to be an animated series based on Space Usagi but the failure of Bucky O’Hare led to it being canned. That said, you can see a clip of it below.

This is a comic I recommend without hesitation, and I urge you to check it out. You can find it in the recently released Usagi Yojimbo Legends collection from Dark Horse Comics.

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