A Bold And Colorful New Era With Usagi Yojimbo #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Sasuke does battle with a demon group in the hills and almost exhausts himself to the point of death to do so. Back in town, Miyamoto Usagi watches a Bunraku puppet play and meets with the man behind it, a blind playwright named Takagi. Sasuke returns to town, and he tells Usagi that an evil presence has arrived in town.

Usagi Yojimbo #1 cover by Stan Sakai
Usagi Yojimbo #1 cover by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo #1 kicks off IDW Publishing’s new ongoing series with the popular character from Stan Sakai.
The comic kicks off with a supernatural threat of demons and potentially-possessed puppets, and it immediately roots itself in the history of Usagi Yojimbo, referencing past adventures with Usagi and Sasuke and the traditional editorial footnotes citing previous Usagi stories.
That’s a pretty reassuring first step for the Usagi Yojimbo fan who would be worried about the IDW transition.
The comic retains the mixture of whimsy, danger, and mystery that has made Usagi Yojimbo so entertaining in the past, which is to be expected considering that Sakai is continuing as the creator.
Usagi Yojimbo #1 by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth
Usagi Yojimbo #1 by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth

A major difference that has made yours truly quite happy is the addition of color to the interior artwork. In addition to Sakai’s iconic art style, Tom Luth is contributing color art to the comic. While Sakai has always maintained an appealing and atmospheric art style in the past regardless of the presence of color, Luth gives the comic a vibrant palette that invigorates the tone and visuals of the comic. The book looks as good as ever under Sakai and Luth, regardless of the publisher change.
Usagi Yojimbo #1 shows that, even though the series as departed from Dark Horse Comics, little will change in regards to the quality of the comic. Stan Sakai is a great talent in the industry, and the addition of colors from Tom Luth make for a new and bold experience for the series. This one gets a recommendation for sure. Feel free to give it a read.
Usagi Yojimbo #1 comes to us from writer, artist, letterer, and cover artist Stan Sakai, color artist Tom Luth, and variant cover artists Daniel Warren Johnson with Mike Spicer; Walter Simonson with Laura Martin; Kevin Eastman with Tomi Varga; and others.
Final Score: 8.5/10

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