From Julie and Stan Sakai. Published by IDW.
(A review copy of this book was provided by NetGalley.)
(Also, I swear that’s Groo on the cover.)
For years I have thought that the number one comic everyone, including dedicated comic readers, are sleeping on is Usagi Yojimbo. Amazing stories, with arguably the most detail perfect art anywhere on the stands. This original graphic novel takes the familiar characters and introduces them to the middle grade set, with the same quality of art and writing that adults have been enjoying.
While out fishing, Usagi, Tomoe, and Gen rescue a clay creature named Dogu. Our heroes find out Dogu’s village is under the control of the Salamander King and his army of Heebie Chibis. Usagi and his friends vow to free Dogu’s people and many an adventurous and hilarious moment ensues.
I thought this was one of the most enjoyable and fun books I’ve read in awhile. I purposely read it in front of my 7 year old and pretended to be surprised to find him looking over my shoulder, wanting to know more. Every character is adorable, but adorable plus. Adorable plus heroic, or plus monstrous, or plus conflicted. Emotions shine through every anthropomorphized face.
The adventure will keep any reader of any age determined to finish this book in one sitting. Nothing is too scary for young readers, but they will be constantly wondering how their new favorite heroes are going to get out of jam after jam. There was a great heroic moment in the final act that caused me to gasp and then cheer. If this book can pull such a reaction out of a jaded reader like myself, kids will be running through the house in excitement before rushing back winded, but with just enough energy to turn the page.
If all you know of Usagi is his connection with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you’re missing out on some of the best comics published today. With this OGN, your kids don’t have to miss out on him anymore.