Well, that’s it. Zombies have officially taken over. First that Walking Dead Stuff, then the Marvel Zombies. Before I knew it they were skulking about the bridge of the USS Enterprise and then that Blackest Night thing, but if they can make it all the way into the pages of Usagi Yojimbo then where else is there to go? Eightball?
Seriously, though, for better or for worse, in spite of the kick-ass cover, the living dead have not infected Stan Sakai‘s Talking-Animals/Feudal-Era-Japan, his samurai rabbit heroes’ morals do not get tested when he has to decide to hack off the head of a bitten loved one; in fact, it takes up a relatively small portion of this volume. As anyone who’s been following this book for years will tell you, anything goes here. Usagi Yojimbo Volume 26 has zombies, hidden fortresses, assassination plots, dudes getting stabbed to death, water spirits, former allys seeking vengece, and an evil wizard that reminded me of a Skeksie from the Dark Crystal. So, yeah, it’s not just ‘Usagi Fights The Zombies’ here. But, by the way, it is there. And it’s awesome.
For going on 25 years Stan Sakai‘s Usagi Yojimbo has been taking its anthropomorphized rabbit Samurai protagonist on adventure after adventure through Edo-era Japan while maintaining a steady rhythm of excellence in both storytelling and cartooning. Usagi Yojimbo #143 is no exception.
We find our hero in a new town and quickly embroidered in a new exploit defending the poor and defenseless against the powerful and bullying. It’s pretty standard fare for many samurai stories, or westerns for that matter. Sakai, of course, makes it worth our while with his richly detailed recreation of feudal Japan. When he sets the plot aside for a number of pages to take us on tour of a soy sauce brewery, showing us the process from soy bean to fermentation, it’s not tangential, it’s part of the fun.