May 13, 2014

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Usagi Yojimbo Gets Numbering Reset, New Omnibus at Dark Horse

Everyone's favorite rabbit samurai is getting some love from Dark Horse for the long-running series' 30th anniversary, including new issues, new numbering, and an omnibus treatment of the first set of issues that Dark Horse has the rights to republish.

From the Press Release:

With more than two hundred issues and counting, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo is among comics’ most monumental achievements. In celebration of thirty years of the marvelous samurai rabbit saga, Usagi Yojimbo is set to return in an all-new six-issue miniseries, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, followed by the debut of the Usagi Yojimbo Saga collection!
 Twenty years in his future, Miyamoto Usagi fights as a general for Lord Noriyuki, against the treacherous Lord Hikiji. In the fury of the final battle, a metal rocket crashes to earth—and inside is an enemy that neither side could have ever imagined! Witness the final fates of your favorite Usagi characters, in this all-new samurai epic with a startling science fiction twist!
 

To celebrate the rabbit ronin’s thirtieth anniversary, Dark Horse proudly presents Miyamoto Usagi’s epic trek along the warrior’s path in a new series of deluxe compilations:The Usagi Yojimbo Saga.
 
In the first volume, Usagi protects a village from a band of assassins, reluctantly engages in a duel for blood money, hunts a gangster who has stolen his swords, and more.
 
Collecting Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 2 #1–#16 andVol. 3 #1–#6, and featuring over six hundred pages of samurai action and adventure, The Usagi Yojimbo Saga is the ultimate introduction to Sakai’s enduring samurai masterpiece!
Speaking as a former single issue collector and a person who advocates for making things as easy as possible for new readers who want to go backwards with a favorite character, I have mixed feelings on the decision to reset the numbering. On the one hand, it means more people might try one of my favorite series, and given the personal issues in Sakai's life, the more sales he gets, the better.

On the other hand, it's disturbing to me that smaller publishers are now following Marvel and DC's incredibly annoying constant numerical resets. Stray Bullets just did this. Action Lab did it with Princeless. More and more comics are calling themselves by the television term "season," which also causes tons of #1 issues.

It's the way of the times, I guess, with newness valued over longevity.

At any rate, it's exciting to get new Yojimbo, and I also like the move to reprint the older issues at the same time, though Dark Horse fails to mention here that the first seven trades (and thus the true starting point) actually belong to Fantagraphics, who issued their own gorgeous omnibus a few years back. No details in this release as to whether or not the Dark Horse version will be complimentary to the slipcased Fanta edition, or merely an oversized hardcover. If it's the latter, I'll likely keep my trades, but I'm sure I'm not the only fan who wouldn't mind matching hardcovers to put on the shelf.

Either way, if you're new to Usagi Yojimbo, I highly recommend it. A new first issue would be an inexpensive start to what I expect will be a long and healthy relationship with the wandering samurai and his imaginative world.