This past April we previewed here at borg.com what we predicted would be the crossover event of the summer. We’re glad we were right! The crossover is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo from IDW Publishing, by arrangement with Dark Horse Comics, Nickelodeon, and Miyamoto Usagi creator Stan Sakai. Sakai returns to his nimble samurai rabbit warrior 33 years after its first appearance, writing, drawing, and lettering the new book, with Tom Luth supplying the color. Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even lends a hand, supplying a cover variant for the book. Both series featuring anthropomorphic martial arts heroes were created in 1984.
The quality of this book can’t be overstated–it’s gorgeous. With most comic books a panel or two per page always seems to get short shrift, sometimes an image with no details or silhouette, but that’s not the case with Sakai’s work here. You can see Sakai’s love for these characters in every panel on every page–emotion, action, or attitude is always present–as he conjures a tale derived from Namazu, a legend in Japanese tradition. He combines his samurai hero with Kakera–his version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sensei Splinter–and everyone’s favorite ninja turtles as they embark on a quest to save Japan. Sakai’s story is based on the story of a giant catfish that lives under the Japanese islands, whose movements are the cause for frequent earthquakes. A great hero was able to pin the fish under a massive rock at Kashima Shrine. In his new twist on the legend, a piece of the rock has broken off, weakening its power, and now the catfish threatens to destroy the country. Our heroes must face the demonic spearman Jei, who wants the country destroyed and threatens to interfere with their efforts as they return the rock to its rightful place.
As you can see above, Sakai’s sound effects are brilliant!
Look for cover variants from Sakai, longtime Sakai collaborator Sergio Aragonés, Mouse Guard’s David Petersen, and Kevin Eastman–ten covers in all.
Eastman, Aragonés, and Petersen’s covers are shown above, and these are the seven other superb covers:
This is not the first time the two martial arts hero 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. Sakai has won a total of seven Eisner and Harvey Awards, and was nominated for 21 Eisners over his long career.
Look for the Usagi Yojimbo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover tale Namazu now at Elite Comics or your local comic book store and you can order the hardcover edition here. Sakai fans will also want to check out The Usagi Yojimbo Saga Legends Limited Edition, available for pre-order now here at Amazon at a discount off list price and shipping August 8. Look for Usagi in a three-part story arc in the Nickelodeon animated series Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, expected later this year.