Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday I check out the next upcoming volume in the superb Usagi Yojimbo comic series by Stan Saki, Tengu War!
It is finally that time of the year when I get to gush over the next upcoming entry in the amazing Usagi Yojimbo comic series. Readers of this blog will know of my great love of the Usagi Yojimbo series, which I consider one of the best ongoing comic book series out there. Written and drawn by the talented Stan Sakai, the Usagi Yojimbo comics follow Miyamoto Usagi, a wandering rabbit ronin who adventures through an alternate version of feudal Japan inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. This epic series features some impressive storylines that are filled with cool and complex characters, amazing Japanese cultural elements, intense battle scenes and some outstanding and beautiful artwork. I deeply enjoy this amazing series, and I have read every single volume multiple times.
The next entry in the Usagi Yojimbo series with be the 36th volume, Tengu War!, which is currently set for release in February 2022. Tengu War! will be the third volume published by IDW, and will also be the third volume released completely in colour. I am quite excited by the synopsis that has been released, and I love the cool sounding stories that will be contained in Tengu War! The stories in this upcoming volume will follow through some of the recent storylines featured in the IDW volumes, Bunraku and Other Stories (one of my favourite books of 2020) and Homecoming (one of my favourite books from the first half of this year), while also calling back to some of the older entries in this series.
Volume Three collecting Usagi’s newest adventures finds him fighting in a war with an old teacher and strange new allies–and helping a new friend complete a mission!
Usagi seeks out an old teacher, Sojobo, but upon finding him, learns that a new brand of Tengu mountain goblins have invaded the Western Peak. Savage and relentless, they are determined to drive the established Tengu out and prey upon the people of the area. For the first time, Usagi must ally himself with yokai against an even greater enemy, in “Tengu War!”
Then, in “The Master of Hebishima,” Usagi delivers a basket of lizards to an eccentric monk who lives on a remote island infested with snakes, where he learns they share a history that goes back to the Great Wars and the Battle of Adachi Plain where Usagi became a ronin.
In the final story, “Yukichi,” Usagi encounters a young swordmaster carrying out the dying wish of his master. Yukichi must deliver Itsuki-Sensei’s swords to his nephew, Daido, who will take over his school, however, they must pass through the territory of a rival school intent on preventing them from completing their mission.
Collects issues #15–21 of the all-new full-color Usagi Yojimbo series published by IDW.
I really like the sound of the cool stories contained within this upcoming volume. It looks like Sakai has come up with three great new adventures, and I am sure that I will have a wonderful time with all of them. The first story regarding the warring Tengu (from which this volume will get its name), sounds pretty interesting especially as it will show some fantastic new elements of Usagi’s early life. We have had some hints at Usagi’s experiences with the Tengu before, specifically in a story contained in the 18th volume, Travels with Jotaro, which detailed Usagi’s first ill-fated meeting with a Tengu swordmaster. This new story will no doubt detail his mysterious training under the Tengu, and I am quite intrigued about what happened during these experiences. I am also excited to learn more about the Tengu, especially as this story will feature two separate varieties of them, and it will be fun to see Usagi, who usually slays all the Japanese monsters (yokai) he encounters, team up with some mystical creatures for the great good.
The other two stories contained within Tengu War! also sound extremely fun, and I am very keen to read them. The first of them, The Master of Hebishima, sounds like one of the more unique entries in this volume, and I think it will be and interesting blend of drama and comedy. Usagi forced to deal with an eccentric monk on an island filled with snakes has a lot of potential with fun, but add in a connection to his past and you have a much more serious story. The Battle of Adachi Plain has been featured in several previous comics, including the main story of Volume 2: The Samurai and the story Return to Adachi Plain from the 11th volume, Seasons, and these prior occurrences have brought great grief and melancholy to Usagi. This should result in some great, emotional moments, and it will be interesting to see how this ties into some recent storylines where Usagi has been contemplating his continued loyalty to his long-dead master. I look forward to seeing what sort of tale is contained within The Master of Hebishima, and I am very curious about the whole island of snakes aspect of it (are they sentient, evil, do they have some connection to the mysterious villain, Lord Hebi? I need to know).
The final story, Yukichi, also sounds very awesome, as Usagi and another swordsman are forced to cross a hostile landscape to deliver a pair of valuable swords. Out of all the stories in Tengu War!, this one has the most potential for intense action sequences, as Usagi and his new friend will be forced to face off against a horde of rival swordsman and students, intent on stopping them. I imagine there will also be some interesting talk about duty and honour, and I look forward to seeing Usagi lending his experiences to a younger, less worldly student.
As you can from the above, I am extremely excited about this upcoming volume in the Usagi Yojimbo comic series. I absolutely love the sound all three stories that will be contained within Tengu War!, and I think that they all have an immense amount of potential for impressive action sequences and fantastic character moments. Based on all my previous experiences with Sakai’s work and this amazing Usagi Yojimbo, I already know that I am going to deeply enjoy this upcoming volume, and Tengu War! will be one of the best things I read in 2022.