Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai
Publisher: Dark Horse
Boss Hayashi is robbed by a mysterious hooded figure, and the records of his bribes to town officials are taken. The thief leaves only a wooden spinning top. Usagi Yojimbo has just arrived in town with his nephew and travelling companion Jotaro. They meet an old friend, Kitsune the street performer, and get mixed up in the unknown thief's attempts to blackmail the ganglord.
Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo stories are uncomplicated and satisfying, with an attention to authenticity in the details of costumes, weapons and architecture. The artwork obviously owes a debt to Sergio Aragones, with whom Sakai works on Groo, but it's ideally suited to his tales of the humane rabbit samurai.
Usagi and Jotaro encounter two charcoal-makers who taunt a Buddhist monk with an egg-shaped cranium. The priest travels with them as they rescue a merchant beset by assassins and Usagi agrees to act as his bodyguard. Stan Sakai maintains an approach to story-telling that suits all ages. The well-paced plot is simple enough for a child to follow, and although there is fighting and death there is no blood or dismemberment. Allowing for the fact that he's actually a rabbit, Usagi Yojimbo is a fine male role model - strong, determined, loving and generous. But the characterisation is also strong enough to keep an adult interested, and attention is paid throughout to authenticity.
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