4 out of 5
Combining the world-building, self-contained sensibilities of the first Space Usagi series with the blockbuster cheek of the second one, Warrior delivers massive thrills, expanding our adventure to new planets with new, page-filling creatures, and blending in large scale blaster battles with more intimate, tense, one-on-one showdowns. By leaning in to our preconceptions from the regular series, Stan is able to execute some very fun twists, and as he’s also very keen to establish Space Usagi as its own entity with its own cast, those ‘twists’ don’t lose impact once revealed – you can’t be sure how Sakai is going to tail things out.
Warrior settles down in the wake of White Star Rising with various clans pledging loyalty to their new lord, Kiyoshi. Usagi is set to retrieve the treasures Kiyoshi’s father had plotted away for their kingdom when it’s suggested that the lord, himself, should be leading this venture, ensuring the confidences of his charges. Kiyoshi agrees; precautions are taken, but things inevitably go awry, and off we spiral into sci-fi goodness – battles with aliens, energy-enhanced samurai swords, desert planets and more.
The final issue is absolutely epic, with Stan once more using the space-faring nature of things to bust out of the more stately framing of the regular series. That epicness frankly bursts the seams on the issue, though: sticking to a 3-book structure means we’re left absolutely no time for a proper conclusion, so ‘the end’ slams down rather hastily on things.
That aside, Warrior is a resoundingly awesome way to round off a trilogy of incredibly enjoyable alterna-Usagi series.