Usagi Yojimbo: A Place to Stay (#122, UY #181) – Stan Sakai

5 out of 5

Interestingly, A Place to Stay feels structurally very similar to the previous issue, The Hidden Fortress, if somewhat in reverse, but it’s ratcheted up just a few degrees – and those few degrees seemed to be all that was needed to hit perfection.

Boss Toshi’s gang are now after Usagi, and we pick up right in the middle of a crazy brawl, through which Usagi slices and dices, offing an insane amount of foes. Stan’s art is ridiculously tight in this book, and it especially shines in this opening scene, as Usagi gets more and more frazzled during the battle, eventually “escaping” by stumbling off a cliff-side…! He’s taken in by a poor family, but has to decide on the honorable path to proceed, still recuperating when the family realizes they’re now likely in danger from Toshi’s gang.

This is a movie’s worth of material, microcosmed down to a single, brilliant issue that hits multiple action peaks and ekes out not only significant drama, but also fully fleshed out characters via the few pages on which we meet them.