A tale of two Usagi.
It's somewhat upsetting that you have to wait two months to get your next Sailor Moon manga fix, isn't it? Be that as it may, volume 2 had left off on the nice cliffhanger of Queen Beryl and Metalia's big reveal. Venus's memories came flooding back to the tragic end of the Silver Millenium, and Prince Endymion's body was under Beryl's complete control. Volume three picks up at that point, and leads to history tragically repeating itself in true Romeo and Juliet fashion. After being absorbed along with the Silver Crystal into Metalia, Usagi comes to with the help of the other senshi and she uses the Crystal to seal Metalia away forever. Fast-forward to the next story arc!
Half-way through volume 3 begins the new story arc (what fans of the anime know as the R story arc). A mysterious little girl falls from the sky, and right off the bat Usagi and Mamoru notice something oddly familiar about her rabbit-like pigtails. The girl loudly demands that Usagi hand over the Silver Crystal. Not only that, but the brat's name is also Usagi! Confused yet? The girl pretty much puts a spell on Usagi's whole family and moves right on in with her, whereupon everyone decides to start calling her Chibi-Usa (literally “small rabbit”, or small Usagi). And to make matters worse for Usagi, the kid clings to her beloved Mamoru like velcro and he doesn't seem to mind. And, of course, with this mysterious kid comes new enemies who refer to themselves as Black Moon. Now, it's up to Usagi and the girls to find out who these people are and stop them, but the new enemies are stronger and more cunning than they anticipated.
In volume 3, Takeuchi is really hitting her stride with the Sailor Moon comic. Settings are more clearly illustrated for the most part and, barring a couple of exceptions, scene transitions progress at an easy to follow pace. The artwork only seems to refine as the story goes along and it remains elegant and detailed throughout. It really does the manga credit that Kodansha got Takeuchi to come back to this comic and color the first few pages of every volume as well as do the new cover designs. There's not much in terms of extra content like additional mini comics or blurbs from the artist, but Kodansha does tack on translation notes at the back of the volume as well as sample pages from volume 4.
Sailor Moon remains an absolute classic among anime and manga. It's a shoujo story wrapped in magical girl transformations and sentai team action. It set the mold for similar mahou shoujo (“magical girl) series that followed after and it simultaneously broke it, because none have ever hit that mark again in terms of either story or artwork. Anyone who missed out on the early days of the Sailor Moon craze in the 90's that helped boom anime in America will do well to at least read the manga before judging the anime too harshly with its monster-of-the-week episodic progression. Old fans, like myself, will be thrilled to have a truer translation of the original manga in their collection.