Usagi Yojimbo vol.4: Mon (#10, UY #248) – Stan Sakai

5 out of 5

Over the many, many years of Usagi Yojimbo, the rabbit has made the trek all over the land, floating by home – thinking of Mariko, thinking of settling down – only finding reason to be on his way instead. This should get old, in the same way that decades of stories on this lone wanderer should’ve exhausted tales to tell many times over, but Stan Sakai has somehow always been able to recycle his themes with fresh insights. Perhaps because Usagi is so – hyuck – human, with enough outlandishness woven into his world to allow for occasionally epic forays now and then, Stan has lucked in to the perfect balance for such a long-running title: he’s grown with his creation; we grow with Usagi; Usagi grows with us.

In Mon, he’s wandered into Hikiji territory once more, where his Mifune crest upon his kimono immediately draws the wrong attentions. Usagi stands his ground but relents, due to a shopkeeper’s protests – he, too, used to serve Mifune, but wants no trouble – and things evolve from there, into one of those masterfully affecting one-shots that’s ultimately tragic, but is just another notch in the list of experiences that affects our rabbit and us. It’s a familiar tale, as almost all UYs are, but then, of course, brand new as well, gifting us with a badass scene in which Usagi bests a crowd solely with his scabbard – love when he does that – and then a typically (and always) exciting and tense followup battle later on.