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Review – Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3 (IDW Publishing)

Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer's Road #3 (IDW Publishing) cover (detail) by Peach Momoko
  • Writing - 8.8/10
    8.8/10
  • Art - 8.8/10
    8.8/10
  • Overall - 8.8/10
    8.8/10

Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer's Road #3

Writer: Stan Sakai
Artist: Stan Sakai
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Stan Sakai
Maturity Rating: Everyone
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: January 27, 2021

An old enemy finds Usagi; can Usagi beat the blind swordsman when he is left in the dark as well?

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8.8/10
8.8/10
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Usagi Yojimbo Faces an Old Enemy in Wanderer’s Road #3

IDW Publishing brings us back another classic Usagi Yojimbo tale, this time with some delightful colors added by Ronda Pattison, in Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3. Stan Sakai’s Miyamoto Usagi is on the road again in Edo-period Japan. But as things, as usual, turn out not so simple for the ronin rabbit. As it would so happen, Usagi runs into an old enemy, one whose nose he happened to cut off. Having your nose cut off is bad, but especially bad when you are already blind! Now the blind swordsman wants revenge on Usagi, and he looks to even the playing field by bringing Usagi into the darkness!

Writing

Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer's Road #3 (IDW Publishing) cover by Peach Momoko
Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3 (IDW Publishing) cover by Peach Momoko

I know this is a reprint, but I haven’t read it, so it is new to me, dang it! But anyway, Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3 is another classic Stan Sakai tale. If you are a fan of Usagi and Stan’s work then you know what you are in for. If not, then you may be in for a few surprises.

I am always a little bit deceived when I dig into an Usagi story. I don’t read them all the time, but hop in and out often. Stan Sakai makes Usagi almost uniquely accessible to new readers, people who follow every issue, and those that hop in and out like me. Sakai makes the series one that is easy just to jump right into, or makes it an enjoyable long-term follow with deep character and story cuts from previous storylines. This issue is no different, as a one-shot type story that also has a longer backstory, as well, with the Return of the Blind Swordsman.

So, going back to being deceived, I always forget how tragic and “violent” Usagi stories are, or can be if you really look at them. Lots of death and heavy themes. They can also be amusing, tragic, fun. Really, Sakai does just about every kind of story with Usagi Yojimbo.

Sakai also puts a nice lesson in the story, as well. There is a sweetness to Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3. After everything is hashed out, Usagi is still somehow this incredibly humble and nice character. After reading this issue you are just left with a nice mellow feeling that is honestly great to have.

Art

Not much that I can say about Stan Sakai’s art that hasn’t already been said. The guy is a living legend and his style has stood the test of time. Just a classic cartooning style, it is simple, yet complex. With bold ink lines and a nice attention to character and location detail, Sakai sets you into this world perfectly.

Again, Sakai’s art style can be deceptive, storywise. The only reason you know people are dead is because he puts a skull icon above their heads. It can be easy just to breeze by a page of a big sword fight and not think twice, but then you pause and think, oh, he murdered all those guys; things get a little darker then. But since we don’t see all the blood and guts, and it is cute anthropomorphic animals doing it, it is easy to miss at times.

Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3 features added coloring by the wonderful Ronda Pattison. It is always interesting to see Stan Sakai’s work being colored, especially the older issues. Ronda Pattison is one of my favorite color artists (you know this if you read my TMNT reviews). She brings a nice depth to Wanderer’s Road #3. Pattison, for me, uses a good, more faded look that enhances the issue and still doesn’t take away from its original black-and-white form.

Conclusion

I mean, I hate to even really put a “score” on Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3. It is a classic Usagi tale that I feel really anyone can enjoy. If you have never read an Usagi Yojimbo story, or want to start, you could probably pick this issue up and enjoy it. Stan Sakai always delivers something to the reader out of an Usagi tale. Whether you learn a little about history or maybe a little about human nature and how to be a better person, Usagi always has something a little extra besides sword fights.


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