While in other places, the indie periodical comic has languished, Stan Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo do not question, they just do. After five publishers and 26 years, this story of a wandering rabbit samurai in Edo period Japan has become one of the longest-running and best loved independent comics of all time. With a loyal home at Dark Horse since 1996 and 24 collections published, the Usagi saga has become a continuing epic of heroism, betrayal and romance, with a large cast of characters who weave in and out of Usagi’s life. It’s comics world building at its purest, and all-ages in the best way.
A new issue is out this month that serves as a jumping on point (although truthfully, Sakai is such a strong storyteller that you can always catch up just by jumping on — check out how the first page of the preview sets up the situation so you can just keep on going.)
Usagi Yojimbo #133
These issues form both halves of “Taiko,” a special double-issue story line. A group of drought-stricken farmers commission an enormous taiko drum to show their devotion to the gods, and pray for rain. But the bloodthirsty Red Scorpion Gang threatens to destroy the drum unless the farmers pay up, so the farmers must turn to rabbit ronin Usagi to protect the drum, lest they face starvation from drought! When the Red Scorpion Gang burns down the farmers’ temple and the drum is in jeopardy, Usagi must figure out how to rescue it and fight the Red Scorpions at the same time, or all is lost!
Publication Date: November 24, 2010
Format: B&W, 24 pages
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.