Writer: Stan Sakai
Artist: Stan Sakai
Letterer: Stan Sakai
Colorist: Tom Luth
Earlier this year, Usagi Yojimbo made a big step towards his future and his new and more colorful home at IDW. Issues #1, 2, and 3 gave us Bunraku, and issues #4 and 5 gave us The Hero. Both are typical Usagi stories full of magic, mystery, and most importantly, well-researched-history.
While a great representation of Stan Sakai’s work, what they were not is any sort of “jumping on point” for the new readers that can come with a new publisher. That wasn’t unintentional. Issue #6 isn’t just any issue, it marks the 35th Anniversary of Usagi’s first appearance in Albedo #2 in November 1984.
To celebrate this occasion, Stan has gone back to his original 8-page story “The Goblin of Adachigahara” and rewritten it as the full-length story “Adachi”. He even recreated the cover of Albedo and used the original full title on it.
The story has Usagi returning to the Adachi Plain where his life as a ronin began with the death of his lord. That night he finds a decrepit hut and asks the old widow there for shelter. She invites him in, and he ends up having to defend her home against a horrible goblin.
Issue #7 brings back Murakami Gennosuke, know just as Gen, a bounty hunter with a very unique sense of honour. Gen was also one of Usagi’s earliest, and most popular, reoccurring characters. In The Swords of the Higashi, Usagi once again finds himself entangled in Gen’s “adventures”, along with his oft-time partner Stray Dog, as the three are relentlessly pursued over the bounty hunter’s prize. This issue will also close out Book 33 of Usagi’s collected stories, due out in the spring. The fact they’ve chosen to include seven issues would indicate something big on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to it.
If you’ve never read Usagi Yojimbo, now is the time to start. I think this is the only series I’ve ever given an unreserved 5 out of 5 to.