Usagi Yojimbo #4
In this explosive new story arc, Usagi goes back to his roots as a yojimbo (bodyguard) when he is hired by Lady Mura, a famous writer, to keep her safe on her perilous journey to her father's home. Making matters worse, Usagi is thrown into a bitter dispute between Lady Mura and her jealous ex-husband (a high ranking lord). A wild tale of action, drama, and adventure!
Stan Sakai shows off his storytelling chops with Part 1 of “The Hero” a new arc that is beautifully inspired by themes explored in The Tale of Genji (Genji-monogatari) from Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu during the speculated years of 1005 to 1013 AD.
In the story notes from Ruth Wold, we explore what is described as “a bleak analysis of relationships between men and women” in The Tale of Genji. That is also what we find in the story of Usagi Yojimbo #4, but this time, we have injected the presence of a true hero in Usagi. The dynamic this creates helps to spur an exciting story, but it also helps to provide an outside perspective to analyze the impact of this relationship between Lady Mura and her Samurai husband. Usagi navigates their tensions with delicacy and intent, never wavering from being exactly like the heroes Lady Mura often writes about. It’s this living depiction that gives this story depth and direction.
Stan Sakai is a legend in comics, having won over twenty Eisner awards. He has created remarkable works, but it’s incredible to see the level of quality that is consistently upheld in the Usagi Yojimbo series. Issue #4 of the IDW continuation is an excellent example of why this character is so important. The exploration of deeply important themes within a welcoming and enjoyable story is a direction that has proved successful time and time again, and that holds true in this issue as well.
The artwork is beautiful, of course, but it contributes something crucial in this issue, the pacing. The way this duo’s journey is shown allows for the use of introspective moments alongside a healthy dose of action, helping to create an issue that flows remarkably well. Because this is part 1 of 2 in the arc, it is able to reach a point that feels like a natural stopping point while still feeling like a substantial story.
There are sure to be some consequences from Usagi allowing those men to leave. The ominous cliffhanger shows that next issue could be more action-packed, but it’s the powerful journey into toxic relationships that will give this arc the heart it needs to stand out.
In a display of powerful storytelling, Usagi Yojimbo #4 takes Usagi back to his roots as a bodyguard in an exploration into the impacts of toxic relationships through the lens of a hero.
Usagi Yojimbo #4: We All Need Heroes!
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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