Welcome back Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #2, the mini-series that is also issue #167 in the regular series (because apparently, that re-numbering irks me enough to mention for a second month.)
As I mentioned in last month’s review of issue #1, “The Hidden” takes its name from the Kakure Kirishitan or “Hidden Christians” of Japan’s Edo period. Usagi’s timeline within the context of real-world history has always been a bit loose, but one of my favorite things about Stan Sakai’s work is his love and dedication to pulling from that legitimate history. Within the context of history, The Hidden seems to take place not long after 1614 and outlawing of Christianity in Japan, given Usagi’s surprise at the fumi-e image he was ordered to step on in order to pass into town in the previous issue.
Issue #2 picks up with Usagi and his longtime friend, Inspector Ishida, having discovered a cross around the neck of a murdered man. Realizing that this discovery could have drastic political complications, Ishida omits this information when the Chief Inspector arrives. Usagi and Ishida soon track down the guards who were at the city gates when the victims may have entered, arriving just in time to prevent the assassination of the second of the two guards. The surviving guard’s information leads the investigation to the residence of the Ogawa Clan, where they learn the only man meeting the description of the deceased was overseeing the arrival of foreign trade goods in the south, and not expected back for several weeks. The story closes as the pair sit down to enjoy a nice pot of tea.
There is a single-page backup story, entitled Chibi Tomoe and the Zō Ninja, by Stan Sakai and his equally talented wife, Julie Fujii Sakai. The pair is credited on the story simply as JUST SAKAI, which is amazing. I’m not normally drawn to chibi characters, but somehow I’m unreasonably excited for more of the Chibi Usagi universe.
As expected, the story picked up quickly in issue #2, after a lot of introductory stuff in #1. This issue gets a 4 out of 5, and I’m looking forward to Issue #3 next month.