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#1 for $1 (One for One) Comic Review - -

Story 9.0
Art 9.0
Value 10
Total 9.3
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: 18/8/2010 (US)
Reviewer: Troy Mayes


#1 for $1

Ever seen a comic book thatís at issue 30 or 40 or higher and thought ďthat looks cool, I wish I could see it from the startĒ? Well Dark Horse seems to think you have because theyíve unleashed their #1 for $1 series. This week theyíve rereleased the first issue for the acclaimed Hellboy and Usagi Yojimbo series.  

First things first both Hellboy and Usagi Yojimbo, first released in 1994 and 1995 respectively, have gone on to win multiple awards for the creative teams behind them and Hellboy has gone on to create a respectable film franchise. Still a stellar pedigree like that may not be enough to convince you to buy them. The amazing price of $1 will surely do that.  

Usagi Yojimbo, created by Stan Sakai, is the tale of a samurai Usagi who just so happens to be a rabbit. Sakaiís story takes place in a feudal Japan where people have been replaced with a variety of animals. After peace has washed over Japan Usagi no longer has a job as he no longer has a lord to fight for. As a result Usagi decides to wonder the Japanese countryside in a bid to hone his spiritual and martial skills. The first issue introduces us to the world of Usagi Yojimbo and sees the hero of the story entering a corrupt town where crime is rampant. Some of this crime is being perpetuated by Usagiís friend Kitsune but she has more of a Robin Hood outlook on life making her actions a little more acceptable. Usagi is a classic tale of good and evil, right over might told through the awesome moral compass of a Ronin rabbit. 

Hellboy, created by Mike Mignola, focuses on a red demon from another world that, during the height of World War II, is thrust into the arms of Professor Bruttenholm Englandís leading academic on all things paranormal. Bruttenholm, over the years since the war ended, has become like a father to Hellboy. Logically itís Hellboy who Bruttenholm wants to see first after an expedition goes wrong but, unfortunately for the Professor and Hellboy, the failed expedition isnít the end of their paranormal problems. Hellboy is probably the ultimate paranormal story due to taking place through the eyes of someone who is very much paranormal, Hellboy. The first issue quickly gets all the origin stuff out of the way, with enough hints that itíll be important later on, before jumping to some great action and big plot points.  

Itís almost disappointing that theyíve only reprinted the first issue as both stories finish with rather big cliffhangers that will follow on in the next issue. They only represent a taste of whatís made the two series so popular.   

The two comics sport completely different visual styles, making them a unique addition to any comic book fans collection. Usagi focuses on black and white artwork that has a very cartoon look in the character design (think of something like the faces of Archie comics or the kids show Arthur) while Hellboy sports a more colorful palette that incorporates backgrounds that are pink, blue, green etc. Still the bright colors in the Hellboy are often paired with dark black to give the impression of shadow on the image and the combination of color and black does work to create an unsettling, paranormal feel. Usagi Yojimbo does a great job of showing a range of emotion in the faces due to that cartoon style, for instance thereís the gulping, sweating police captain who is worried about saving his skin.  

The Hellboy and Usagi Yojimbo first issues are a must buy. Throwing their success over the years out the window they are only a dollar (depending on the conversion in AUS maybe $2 or $3 max). Thatís a pittance to pay for such great material and it will provide you with a cheap window into the world of Hellboy and Usagi Yojimbo so you can make up your mind as to whether youíd like to invest in the collected tradepaperbacks, which you should.   


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