Post by coke & comics on Feb 20, 2016 14:54:39 GMT -5
Summary: Playing his pipe as he wanders the road, Usagi encounters a demonic beast. He wounds the beast before it disappears. He comes to a town plagued by fear of this demon. And a madman who creates statues of the dead and babbles nonsense. A woman named Ocho offers Usagi tea and tells him Gon is the only survivor of an expedition to kill the beast, and it drove him mad.
The woman has a cut on her hand, and in the reflection of his sword, Usagi sees her true nature. She is the beast. At night, he confronts her. Gon joins the battle and is killed. Usagi slays the beast. Usagi carves a small statue for Gon. The townspeople do not seem to appreciate his sacrifice.
Thoughts:Doomsday Squad is a short-lived scifi/superhero comic from Fantagraphics by Joe Gill and John Byrne. I have read none of it and am not familiar with Joe Gill. Issue 3, which I do not own, features a backup story with our favorite leporid samurai.
Usagi is playing a wooden wind instrument with the opening. Unless somebody familiar with Japanese instruments of the era can correct me, I'm going to call it a flute. We already know Usagi is a skilled swordsman, but this is the first evidence of musical inclination. Though I believe samurai training generally included other disciplines.
The first panel is of Usagi wandering down the road. But rather than an establishing shot, the format is similar to the Horse Thief story, which jumps right to the action, with one of the first panels being Usagi startled by events. In this case, the event is a demon in front of him.
In terms of character, Stan is still trying to paint Usagi as self-interested, rather than a do-gooder. This is in the spirit of the samurai genre, and other picaresque heroes such as Conan. But Stan can't quite maintain that. Once again, Usagi agrees to help those in need, this time a town terrorized by a beast, but lip service is paid to the thought that there may be reward in it. Usagi also refers to the townspeople as "mangy villagers". I have troubling reconciling this with the compassionate Usagi I know in my head. It does fit in with the caste system of the time. It's also possible I'm reading too much negative connotation into the word mangy. Perhaps it was just a descriptive adjective.
Stan is increasingly embracing cartoonish exaggeration for certain panels, especially when humor is inserted. This is evident here in the panel where everybody (including the lizards) run away when Usagi suggests they team up to battle the beast.
I am undecided if there is intentional humor in the fact that Ocho refers to the townspeople as frightened rabbits. I suspect there is.
Ocho is as far as I can tell a human. Except for background cameos by other characters, Ocho is only the second humanoid character we've seen, the first being the big bad of the series. Perhaps this should be a hint? Or perhaps her bandaged hand is some form of clue...
With Gon's death, we see the first use of the skull and crossbones word balloon to indicate death. This will make many returns. Because a lot of people die.
We see another Japanese demon. This time a shape-changer. Usagi refers to kitsune (foxes) who play tricks and cast illusions. We learn a creature's true nature is revealed in its reflection.
In terms of publication history, this is published the same month as the Usagi Summer Special, though that contains a story I believe was created sooner. It comes out between issues 4 and 5 of Critters, neither of which features Usagi. Usagi's next appearance will be 2 months later in Critters #6.
This story is short and simple but I quite like it. From Usagi's music to the battle with the beast. The townspeople who hide instead of help. The tragedy and heroic death of Gon. The brief clues to the mystery of Ocho. The cartoonish elements blended perfectly with the more serious. All ending with a punchline. And the comfortable back and forth between drama and humor which will carry itself through the series.
"We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be." ~Angel
"For all their indisputable intelligence, men take this farce as something serious, and that is their tragedy." ~Brothers Karamazov
Post by thwhtguardian on Mar 12, 2016 22:32:34 GMT -5
This one was a slight replay of the first story with Usagi stumbling into the den of a monster while seeking shelter and fights it off while it tries to attack him while he's sleeping. Only this time we don't get a real good look at Usagi as this version lacked the flash back like the original.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP