Review – TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo (one-shot) (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai
Colours: Tom Luth
Release Date: 26th July 2017

The iconic worlds of Usagi Yojimbo and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are set to collide for the first time in decades this week in an all-new story from legendary creator Stan Sakai.

The story, which sees the Turtles transported to feudal Japan to assist Usagi with defending his homeland, is classic Sakai, featuring a threat ripped from the mists of Japanese folklore and a typically enjoyable blend of subtle humour and wild action.

Interestingly, Sakai opts to mix things up a little as he establishes his central premise.  These aren’t the same Turtles that Usagi once knew, and as such, there’s a significant amount of scepticism and mistrust to be overcome before the swords and nunchuks come out to battle the forces of evil.  It doesn’t slow things down too much, with Sakai  avoiding labouring the point too heavily, but the it still manages to introduce a feeling of freshness to the proceedings to the have the four brothers experiencing this world for the first time, rather than simply re-treading old ground.

The two properties are no stranger to one another, having teamed up and crossed over on a number of different occasions over the years in the world of toys, cartoons and comics.  As such, nostalgia is a powerful driving force throughout this one-shot, with Sakai opting not to try and reinvent the wheel, instead sticking to the mixture of snappy banter and swordplay that has served both Usagi Yojimio and the Turtles in such good stead since their dual inception in 1984.

The artwork is going to be this one-shot’s chief selling point, with Sakai’s distinctive and ostensibly ‘cartoony’ style belying an attention to detail and a sense of cinematic flow which is second to none.  The full-colour pages are definitely worth taking a little time on, particularly once the combat starts flowing and the panels get fuller and larger with every passing moment.  Sakai throws in some fantastic fan-service splash pages near the end, giving fans of both properties some exciting moments to remember, and while the story is perhaps a little straightforward, the artwork is packed with energy and dynamism throughout.

Ultimately, while the story itself isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, Sakai handles this reunion with care and affection, providing an energetic and ultimately rewarding crossover that fans will absolutely love.  And, if you consider yourself a fan of either the rabbit bodyguard or the heroes in a half shell, this should be viewed as an essential purchase.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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