Usagi Yojimbo / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Collection – Stan Sakai, Peter Laird

5 out of 5

Collecting the Turtle Soup and Shell Shock meet-ups of Leo and Usagi, a short from Usagi vol. 1 # 10 (by Peter Laird), the three-part Shades of Green from Usagi vol. 2, and the recent Namazu IDW-published crossover, as well as a boatload of script, thumbnails, and sketches from Namazu and an equal-boatload of pinups this trade can firstly be said to be accurately titled, and to also be a great deal.

And it’s much more than the sum of its (already excellent) part: by piecing together all of these seeming one-offs, you can see how Stan slowly molds a plot / concept over years.  It’s not that he whips out major plot twists or anything, rather that, by having a solo creator handling a property for all this time, the familiarity it allows him to bring to things is simply ingrained.  It makes each subsequent TMNT / Usagi meetup a little more fun, and enriches the Namazu tale, which I’d initially felt was a bit too casual.  While the criticisms I’d offered (that the plot is a lot of bluster but is rather shallow; that the Turtles are rather faceless) still essentially stand, framing it as an Usagi tale as opposed to a TMNT one and reading it in line with the story to which it’s a sequel make it’s breeziness more in line with how Stan has approached his Yojimbo across the decades, which all UY fans can acknowledge is an amazing skill – the misleading simplicity of Stan’s stories and style – and not a limitation.

I don’t know if all the Namazu bonuses were already included with the expanded edition of that book; if they are, maybe a bummer for those that plunked down the cash, but since I wasn’t one of them (IDW had already milked enough out of me with other, more pointless, expanded editions), I can fully celebrate the cover-to-cover awesomeness of this trade.