(W) Stan Sakai (A) Stan Sakai (CA) Peach Momoko In Shops: Apr 28, 2021 SRP: $3.99
Newly colored, this issue features the classic story “The Shogun’s Gift”! When an important sword is stolen, Usagi must track down the cunning ninja responsible for its theft. A deadly game of wits ensures that Usagi will have to use all of his wiles to win!
(W) Stan Sakai (A) Stan Sakai (CA) Peach Momoko In Shops: Mar 31, 2021 SRP: $3.99
Featuring the classic Usagi story “The Tea Cup”. Usagi’s rough-mannered friend Gen returns with a new mission: the two must return a priceless tea cup to a merchant for a hefty reward! With thieves on their trail, what happens when two orphans get between Gen and his dreams of a hefty payday?
(W) Stan Sakai (A) Stan Sakai (CA) Peach Momoko In Shops: Feb 24, 2021 SRP: $3.99
“The Blade of the Gods” Seeking safety from a storm, Usagi encounters an unusual and frightening fellow ronin. The refuge turns into a dangerous trap as the ronin believes the gods want him to kill Usagi! Read the thrilling first encounter between Usagi and his most dangerous and terrifying enemy, Jei!
(W) Stan Sakai (A) Stan Sakai (CA) Peach Momoko In Shops: Nov 25, 2020 SRP: $3.99
The next chapter of classic Usagi stories begins, newly colored! Usagi begins his adventures in earnest with the quintessential tale “The Tower” wherein Usagi gets himself into a very precarious predicament all thanks to a mischievous lizard!
For readers new to Usagi’s adventures since series creator Stan Sakai packed up and left Dark Horse, IDW Publishing has been tasked with reprinting the older Usagi adventures in color. Usagi Yojimbo has carried on in black and white for so many years. While the stories were incredible without color, a series like Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderers Road #1 provides an excellent jumping-on point.
Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderers Road #1 reprints “The Tower,” which was originally published as Usagi Yojimbo, issue 7, volume 1. This one pre-dates the Dark Horse adventures as this was published by Fantagraphics. In this story, a tokagé, which is a small, green lizard, has inadvertently caused a shop-owner a considerable amount of trouble, only to find it chased by said shop-owner up a tower. Usagi sees a mob wanting to harm the creature. He shows a softer side by scaling up the tower to retrieve said creature. The shop-owner isn’t too happy about his involvement. In the end, Usagi befriends the creature, eventually named Spot, who would be Usagi’s pet/friend. Along the way, a lot of comical elements befall the shop-owner.
Ronda Pattison’s coloring adds an additional layer to the art. Now that I’ve had the chance to partake in the adventures being colored, I’m starting to almost prefer the coloring over the black & white classics. Almost.
I own the original issue 7 from long ago and had the chance to compare the two. The transfer is spot on. The adventures of Miyamoto Usagi hold up as some of the best all-time adventures in this medium. Stan Sakai’s storytelling is on par with the best in this industry. I know his art can pale when compared with the detail that some put in their respective style. When I look at Sakai’s art, I feel it carries with it its own layers of detail and precision. I do like the art a hair more in these older adventures than what’s currently produced but Sakai hasn’t lost much at all with the pencil.
Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderers Road #1 is highly recommended and this issue alone is a masterful reminder of what a creator can do with just one issue.
Story: Stan Sakai Art: Stan Sakai Color: Ronda Pattison Story: 10 Art: 8.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Purchase
IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review