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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My Collection - USAGI YOJIMBO [1996 Series]

Usagi Yojimbo [1996 series]
144 issues [1996 - 2012]
1 - 144

How weird to see such a concise list. First time we've seen that in this series of posts. 144 issues, starting with #1, ending with #144 (for now, this is on-going, up to #157 now, I switched to digital for it after a long hiatus, but might still get the print issues eventually). That makes this the longest running book I had a complete set of.

This is the black and white Dark Horse published version of Stan Sakai's now two-decade old rabbit samurai comic book. Sakai's kept the book fresh through the years with a great variety of stories, lots of research on Japan informing the story and a large and varied supporting cast with interesting inter-relationships (I in particular like any interaction of Usagi with Gen, the bounty hunter and with his "nephew" Jotaro).

Not too much to say on my buying history for this. I was reading the previous series from Mirage (and the one from Fantagraphics before that in its final year), I continued on to this one (which was originally announced as a three-issue series and just continued from there). Been coming out at about 9-10 issues a year. Sometimes I think that I should just start picking up the tradepaperbacks instead of the on-going book, but I don't really want to wait two years for a new story and it's kind of nice to have one almost monthly book that I know will be there for me to buy (most other books I get in that format are lucky to have two issues a year). Sakai also does a great job of pacing the book so it reads well as single issues, even when he'd doing long epic stories. Plus he does great covers which don't make it into the collections.

Lot's of great stuff, of course, including several long sagas including the two "Grasscutter" serials. A few shorter bits that I liked:

#23 - My Father's Sword (an epic of honour and redemption in 24 pages)
#46-47 - Showdown (a great 2-part Usagi/Gen story and two wraparound covers showing just about the whole cast in one scene)
#73 - The Pride of the Samurai (more tales of honour, plus a lot on the Usagi/Jotaro relationship)

If you want to know more about UY, go get some schooling at the dojo.

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