Usagi Yojimbo #1 (Review): The Ronin Rabbit Has Returned

June 20, 2019

 

USAGI YOJIMBO #1

Writer: Stan Sakai

Artist: Stan Sakai

Colorist: Tom Luth

Letterer: Stan Sakai

Publisher: IDW

9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After years of being published at Dark Horse, Stan Sakai decide to bring his charming and entertaining Usagi Yojimbo over to IDW. To celebrate this big move he launched a new #1 and is doing the book in full color. If you haven't read any Usagi stories prior to this book, this is a great entry point into this fantastic world , while it may not be the perfect jumping on point it doesn't take away from the pure genius that is Stan Sakai. This is a great issue and shows why this series has lasted for over 35 years. It also only means you would heighten your experience by picking up a trade or 2 of some of the earlier stuff.

 

I'll be honest with you guys, I've been reading comics since I was 5 (27 years) and had a basic knowledge of Usagi Yojimbo but never picked up one of his comics. A few months ago, I suddenly got the urge to see what the entire comic book community was talking about. Usagi Yojimbo has long been praised as one of the best comic book series of all time, with Stan Sakai being hailed as one of the greatest cartoonists to ever illustrate. I mean there's a reason why this guy has won 5 Eisners, right? How could I call myself a die hard comic fan and not read this series?

 

 

So I dove right in. I bought the USAGI YOJIMBO SPECIAL EDITION slipcase from Fantagraphics (which collects the first 10 years of stories) and the first collection from Dark Horse. From the first story, I was an Usagi fan. More importantly I fell in love with Stan Sakai's beautiful work. The best part about that special edition book was the special features in the back. There's an interview with Stan, sketches, and the inspiration behind some of the stories. One thing that makes this series really special is how he (Stan) infuse his tales with a deep connection to actual history. The research that he puts into this, doesn't go unappreciated.

 

USAGI YOJIMBO is a book filled not just with action, but humor as well. That has been one of the biggest appeals of this series since its conception all those years ago. You never know what kind of story to expect, and that's ok. One issue may make you laugh and another may have you in the edge of your seat. One thing that you can be sure of, Stan puts his heart and soul into each issue. That is why his lovable Ronin Rabbit is so beloved all these years later.

 

Ok, enough about the past, let's talk about this new issue. This debut has been one of the biggest launches in the history of IDW, and it came out with a bang. Sakai brings old and new readers alike right into the fantastic world of our favorite samurai rabbit. We are treated to the first act in a 3 part story, “Bunraku", which reintroduces Sasuke, a supporting player and demon fighter with a mysterious past. It also ivolves Japanese puppet drama, the titular Bunraku.

 

After Usagi is finished watching the play, Sakai gives us a little backstory on this traveling troupe of puppet masters. It's here that Sasuke runs into Usagi and we learn that there's more going on with these puppets than meets the eye. It's the perfect story for

 

The story is and art, as always, show why Sakai is truly a master of his craft. His tales are executed so flawlessly and the art is flows with an elegance that can be rare in today's comics. Add the amazing coloring from Tom Luth and the art pops off the page.

 

If you've never read a Usagi Yojimbo book before, don't wait any longer. Go pick up this book and trust me you'll fall in love instantly. The hype is real guys. 

 

 

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