5 out of 5
The “classics” in the title of this series is really fitting: “Lone Rabbit and Child,” reprinted here – and also in the first Usagi TPB – is an all-timer, introducing Tomoe and Noriyuki, and seeding in a conspiracy amongst several lords – including Hikiji – which would run in Usagi tales for years to come. While this is definitely in Stan’s older, more “squished” character style, the art is still stunning, with emotionally-packed exchanges and maybe some of Stan’s most violently depicted action. Having this reprinted in regular comic size is classy enough, but then Ronda Pattison comes in with perfect colors. She’s now 100% nailed her gradients, and has some especially tricky panels in which to balance out her additions without overwhelming Stan’s linework, and she nails those as well. Also, having originally read this in B&W, I realize how much mood coloring can add, with panels rendered as evening settings or whatnot – and quite beautifully – when such things may have only been implied or assumed before.