After four decades, a Usagi Yojimbo tale is still equal parts character-driven, contemplative, and compellingly dynamic.

There’s a reason that comic creator Stan Sakai’s samurai creation has had, as of this past month, 40 years and 275 issues of longevity. Sakai’s stories are deceptively straight forward: Usagi and his companion find themselves thrown in the midst of a kerfuffle or mystery—either by their own hands or others—and have to find their way through to the other side. And while there is that element, a closer dive into a Usagi tale sees that there is always something just below the surface working, showing there’s more going on than meets the eye.


Usagi Yojimbo: The Crow #1 main cover


This is evident in Usagi Yojimbo: The Crow #1, out now from Dark Horse Comics and out in time for the aforementioned 275-issue, 40-year milestone. Written, illustrated, and lettered by Sakai, The Crow picks up where Usagi’s last adventure left off, with the titular rabbit and his cousin Yukichi finding greener pastures after a trek through frigid terrain. But while this is a calm respite, danger isn’t far, as just up the road the duo sees four men attacking one lone traveler. At Yukichi’s urging, he and Usagi intervene and fend off the attackers, with the assistance of the traveler’s crow. However, as the cousins make past this encounter to a town up the road, two bounty hunters familiar to Usagi indicate that his and Yukichi’s good deed might have been ill-informed.

While this first issue is primarily setting up the rest of the miniseries, not a single scene feels wasted or plodding. Sakai makes even a discussion about snow boots feel engaging, not to mention the battle that takes place at the beginning of the tale. The comic creator is a master at building suspense and setting the chess pieces in place without it feeling forced, finding a way to make a meal between the cousins and the bounty hunters Gen and Stray Dog both entertaining and crucial to the plot. Much of this is attributed to the art, masterful as always. Sakai doesn’t waste a brushstroke, giving clean lines that are both kinetic and easy to follow. With the art’s sometimes cinematic feel, many moviemakers could take notes from Sakai’s plotting and storyboarding.



Usagi Yojimbo: The Crow #1 feels like a warm, welcoming hug, giving readers a tale that’s both familiar and like coming home, but always willing to keep you off as off kilter as Yukichi does Usagi.

 Usagi Yojimbo: The Crow #1 is on sale now from Dark Horse Comics. Issue #2 debuts next Wednesday, May 8.


From the official description of issue #1:

Finally making it out of the frozen mountains, Usagi and Yukichi come across a merchant being attacked by four brigands. They rescue the supposed merchant only to discover much later that he is really a criminal with a huge bounty on his head! Of course, wherever there is a huge reward you will find bounty hunters Gen and Stray Dog . . . and other unscrupulous trackers!

• Return of longtime Usagi fan-favorites Gen and Stray Dog!


And from the official description of issue #2:

Gen and Stray Dog ask for Usagi’s assistance with the bounty they’re hunting when Usagi’s cousin, Yukichi, is kidnapped! Yukichi will be released unharmed—only if our heroes abandon their search and leave the area. Usagi is shocked when his new enemies have something heartbreaking delivered to him to show how serious they are!

• Usagi’s latest story arc—in full color!


And the main cover of issue #2:

Usagi Yojimbo: The Crow #2 main cover