Samurai rabbit faces off against ninja turtles in summer crossover event

It’s not every day we get to read a new story by its original creator, especially 30 years later.  Comic book readers are getting just that this summer as Japanese-American comic book writer/artist Stan Sakai returns to his creation Miyamoto Usagi, a samurai rabbit living in late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth-century Japan whose exploits were chronicled in his Usagi Yojimbo saga.  Usagi will partner with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a one-shot graphic novel crossover event.  Both series were created in 1984, the Turtles created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

The new story written and illustrated by Sakai is called Namazu, and the conflict centers on the Japanese myth about a giant catfish that lives under the islands of Japan.  A god named Kashima trapped the fish and it now threatens to free itself and destroy the islands, helped in Sakai’s story by Jei, a character on a mission to destroy all the evil in the world.  Can Usagi and the Turtles join forces to save the future of Japan?

The catfish is featured prominently in a beautiful variant cover by Mouse Guard artist David Petersen (below).  Sakai will provide the standard cover for the book.  A softcover and hardcover edition will be available, the hardcover edition including extras like concept art and story notes selected by Sakai.  Sakai has won a total of seven Eisner and Harvey Awards, and was nominated for 21 Eisners, over his long career.

This is not the first time the two anthropomorphic worlds have been featured in crossover stories, but the last was twenty years ago.  Catch up on the Usagi Yojimbo saga now here from Amazon with the most recent graphic novel from Sakai released last August.

This is David Petersen’s variant cover artwork:

And this is Sakai’s cover:

Look for the Usagi Yojimbo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover tale Namazu at your local comic book store in July.  Sakai will also be featuring Usagi in a three-part story arc in the animated series Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, expected later this year.

C.J. Bunce

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