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Usagi Yojimbo Volume 24: Return of the Black Soul Limited Edition

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For years, as Miyamoto Usagi has wandered the countryside, an unseen, malevolent entity has been tracing his steps. Thought dead since the events of Grasscutter, the demon Jei - the Black Soul - has been inhabiting the body of the swordswoman Inazuma, intent on destroying the evil he claims to see in Usagi!


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For years, as Miyamoto Usagi has wandered the countryside, an unseen, malevolent entity has been tracing his steps. Thought dead since the events of Grasscutter, the demon Jei - the Black Soul - has been inhabiting the body of the swordswoman Inazuma, intent on destroying the evil he claims to see in Usagi!

30 review for Usagi Yojimbo Volume 24: Return of the Black Soul Limited Edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Juho Pohjalainen

    Jei dies and lives again. I like to think I know what happens next with him, or at least what happens the last time he shows up. I hope I'm correct and that it'll happen soon. Jei dies and lives again. I like to think I know what happens next with him, or at least what happens the last time he shows up. I hope I'm correct and that it'll happen soon.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Václav

    (3,6 z 5 za jeden z slabších Usagiho příběhů) Jak název naznačuje, v tomto příběhu se opět setkáme s démonem zvaným Jei, kterého jsme opustili když posedl tělo Inazumy a dál páchal svou "boží spravedlnost". Takže je to další pokračování (a nic vlastně neprozradím, když řeknu že zde opět nekončí, protože Jei je tvrdý oříšek). Obecně je příběh dobrý, jen jsem z téhle dějové linky poměrně unaven. I přes Stanův um se to zde odehrává podle zaběhlého vzoru s pár obměnami, naváže se a zase se skončí ote (3,6 z 5 za jeden z slabších Usagiho příběhů) Jak název naznačuje, v tomto příběhu se opět setkáme s démonem zvaným Jei, kterého jsme opustili když posedl tělo Inazumy a dál páchal svou "boží spravedlnost". Takže je to další pokračování (a nic vlastně neprozradím, když řeknu že zde opět nekončí, protože Jei je tvrdý oříšek). Obecně je příběh dobrý, jen jsem z téhle dějové linky poměrně unaven. I přes Stanův um se to zde odehrává podle zaběhlého vzoru s pár obměnami, naváže se a zase se skončí otevřeně. Každopádně to má své plus, naše ústřední skupina má fajn chemii, v příběhu se odehrají poutavá intermezza a kresba Stana Sakaie je opět skvělá. Ten ale svými příběhy nasadil sám sobě takovou laťku, že i jinak kvalitní příběh se najednou zdá chabým.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    That volume was absolutely amazing. I didn't have that many chills since vol. 12 Grasscutter. An ensemble of characters (Usagi, Sanshobo, Gen, Stray Dog) gathers up to fight Jei 2.0, the possessed Inazuma. Finally we had a backstory of Jei, as he proves to be easily one of the most interesting characters of the whole UJ saga and clearly the best villain i've seen in a long while. Damn, vol.24, ~30 years later and still this comic rocks. Pure talent, tends to become one of my all-time favorites. I That volume was absolutely amazing. I didn't have that many chills since vol. 12 Grasscutter. An ensemble of characters (Usagi, Sanshobo, Gen, Stray Dog) gathers up to fight Jei 2.0, the possessed Inazuma. Finally we had a backstory of Jei, as he proves to be easily one of the most interesting characters of the whole UJ saga and clearly the best villain i've seen in a long while. Damn, vol.24, ~30 years later and still this comic rocks. Pure talent, tends to become one of my all-time favorites. If i could put 6/5 stars, i would. Will definetely re-read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Blindzider

    Unfortunately, my library did not have Vol 23, so I'm having to skip that for now. The whole of this volume covers the return of Jei, who according to footnotes appeared back in Vol. 12 (which I also have not read) but that doesn't lessen the story in any way. It's very clear what Jei is and the story is surprisingly dark without being simply a bunch of killing. Sakai is able to add personal touches to it by giving the samurai different reasons for being involved. Another outstanding volume. Unfortunately, my library did not have Vol 23, so I'm having to skip that for now. The whole of this volume covers the return of Jei, who according to footnotes appeared back in Vol. 12 (which I also have not read) but that doesn't lessen the story in any way. It's very clear what Jei is and the story is surprisingly dark without being simply a bunch of killing. Sakai is able to add personal touches to it by giving the samurai different reasons for being involved. Another outstanding volume.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cale

    The story here is another strong volume, and feels like it's setting the stage for even bigger events. Usagi is a bit player in several of the earlier stories, as they setting up his antagonists. But he gets plenty of panel time as well, and there are some powerful stories. Most of the secondary characters also get moments to shine, but it's the new characters that are the star of the show. There's some impressive action, although the art feels a bit off in this volume. There's also a nightmare The story here is another strong volume, and feels like it's setting the stage for even bigger events. Usagi is a bit player in several of the earlier stories, as they setting up his antagonists. But he gets plenty of panel time as well, and there are some powerful stories. Most of the secondary characters also get moments to shine, but it's the new characters that are the star of the show. There's some impressive action, although the art feels a bit off in this volume. There's also a nightmare sequence that ups the ante for what seems to be coming - Jei's presence is increasingly coming back to the fore.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I believe I've given Usagi Yojimbo collections eight through twenty three each a five-star rating, but haven't written a review for any of them until now. It's time for me to rectify that situation, since it's my favorite on-going graphic novel series. Usagi is a wandering, masterless samurai in someplace like early seventeenth century feudal Japan. It's not actually historical, but don't be fooled by the fact that the characters are all drawn as animals--it is an action-filled drama with a reali I believe I've given Usagi Yojimbo collections eight through twenty three each a five-star rating, but haven't written a review for any of them until now. It's time for me to rectify that situation, since it's my favorite on-going graphic novel series. Usagi is a wandering, masterless samurai in someplace like early seventeenth century feudal Japan. It's not actually historical, but don't be fooled by the fact that the characters are all drawn as animals--it is an action-filled drama with a realistic setting and serious themes. Many of Usagi's peers are amoral guards-for-hire or bounty hunters, but he sticks to the warrior's honor code and is always on the lookout for those who need his help. As Charles Solomon writes in this volume's introduction: "He's the stranger who wanders into town, rights a wrong, tosses out a tin-horn bully, solves a mystery, and maybe breaks a heart. . . . He may long for a peaceful settled life, but the backroads and byways are his only real home." He's a humbly heroic figure in a land of chaos ruled by warlords, making his way through life doing the best he can. Author/illustrator Stan Sakai has been telling Usagi's ongoing story since 1987 in a amazing feat of sustained storytelling. The closest experience I can compare consuming it to is watching an ongoing television show. Each volume is episodic, containing many smaller stories and chapters. Sometimes they stand alone, sometimes they are connected. Usagi grows and changes, but only gradually. There are other characters he encounters repeatedly throughout his travels and references are made to previous volumes, but each can be read and enjoyed without the bigger backstory. I started with volume eight and was able to jump right in without missing a beat, and I think you could happily start most anywhere in the series without worrying about going back to start at the beginning. (Having said that, I should add that this, more than any other I can think of, might not be the best volume to start with because it is more of a single story than most and is harder than usual to jump into without knowing anything about the characters and their pasts.) Sakai's art is among the best in the business, and, as with the work of any master, you appreciate it more the longer you dwell in it. His storytelling, plotting, and pacing are excellent. Everything about these books is excellent. I can't recommend the series highly enough and hope more readers find it all the time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bill Coffin

    This is a cumulative review of the 35 volumes of collected Usagi Yojimbo stories that have been published to date. They span a 37-year history, across the first seven volumes published by Fantagraphics, across the next 24 volumes published by Dark Horse, and finally across the most recent three volumes published by IDW, bringing us to Usagi Yojimbo v35: Homecoming, published in 2021. This review does not include the volumes Space Usagi, Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo/T This is a cumulative review of the 35 volumes of collected Usagi Yojimbo stories that have been published to date. They span a 37-year history, across the first seven volumes published by Fantagraphics, across the next 24 volumes published by Dark Horse, and finally across the most recent three volumes published by IDW, bringing us to Usagi Yojimbo v35: Homecoming, published in 2021. This review does not include the volumes Space Usagi, Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Collection, or Chibi Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis. In a land very much like Japan, in a time very much like the early days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, when legions of samurai suddenly found themselves out of work in a war-torn land trying to get back to normal, a masterless samurai - a ronin - named Usagi Yojimbo walks the path of a student-warrior. He goes wherever fate takes him, living by his honor, his swordsmanship and by the grace of the friends he makes along the way. On his endless adventures, Usagi confronts wicked bandits, cruel tyrants, sinister assassins, and dire supernatural fiends. He often encounters humble folk plying their trade in an often cruel and harsh world (and along the way, learns a bit about their work, like brewing sake or weaving tatami mats). Along his way, he builds a vast cast of friends, allies and rivals, including the bounty hunger Gen, fellow samurai )and love interest) Tomoe, the ninja Chizu, the third Kitsune, the noble lord Noriyuki, the stalwart Inspector Ishida, and of course, Usagi’s own son (and chip off the old block), Jotaro. And just as well, he builds no small list of enemies, including the dire Lord Hikiji (the power-hungry lord who is the very reason why Usagi no longer has a master), the Neko and Komori ninja clans, the Koroshi league of assassins, and the demonic ronin Jei. Amid all this, Usagi strives to uphold the warrior ideals of bushido and find a sense of enlightenment on his journey. The stories are often funny, exciting, smart, sharp, tight, and occasionally touched with tragedy. They offer an informed look at medieval Japan, and pay no small number of homages to all kinds of cultural references both ancient and modern, as a reflect of Sakai’s own journey to connect with his personal heritage and honor it with his stories. They are simultaneously suitable for adults and kids alike - despite all of the carnage, Sakai never descends into gruesome detail, and yet, the many scenes of battle never seem so sanitized that they lost their gravity. The artwork is distinct and excellent. Sakai’s is a master of sharp lifework (as well as lettering), and since he writes, pencils, inks and letters every issue solo, there is a uniformity and consistency to Usagi Yojimbo that you just don’t find in many other comics or cartoons. Until the last few volumes, it is all B&W, but Sakai’s sense of depth as well as his supremely skilled panel composition, pulls you in so deeply that you forget if it’s in color or not. You are under Usagi’s spell from the first page, and along for the ride, however long it goes. To get an idea of the length, breadth and depth of how beloved an impactful Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series has been, look no further than the introductions to each of the collected volumes published to date. There you will find a dazzling array of some of the finest talents in modern cartooning, who have a seemingly endless variety of ways to say how much they love Usagi Yojimbo, how impactful it has been on their own careers, and how great Stan Sakai has been himself as a goodwill ambassador for both cartooning as well as of the Japanese culture he so masterfully serves throughout his stories. For those who have not yet enjoyed these stories for the first time, a wonderful journey awaits you. Usagi Yojimbo was created during those days in the 80s when anthropomorphic martial arts characters were all the rage. And yet, Usagi Yojimbo stood apart almost immediately. He might have been a rabbit ronin in a world of talking, walking animals, but he never seemed to be drafting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or trying to comment on the martial-art zoo comic trend. From the beginning, Usagi Yojimbo, like its titular character, was determined to walk its own path, to be the best it could be, and to celebrate the things in life that are worth celebrating: devotion to one’s craft, honoring one’s family, upholding one’s obligations, serving one’s highest aspirations, accepting one’s limitations, and acknowledging one’s flaws. The stories are largely episodic varying in length from just a few pages, to an entire collection. They often are self-contained, but just as often reference slowly building meta plots, or serve an entire, novel-length story on their own. Everything is delicately interconnected, and yet, without such a heavy continuity that one can not simply pick up any of these volumes and begin reading without skipping a beat. Such is this series, endlessly accessible and friendly to beginners, and endlessly rewarding to long-time fans for whom earned narrative developments deliver terrific dividends. As with any series of this length, some moments in it won’t land as well with the reader as others. But there just are not that many lows with this - if you appreciate what Sakai is doing here, you’re likely to enjoy pretty much all of it. There are some volumes that really stand out, largely because they tell the biggest and most epic stories (v04: The Dragon Bellows Conspiracy, v12: Grasscutter, v15: Grasscutter II - Journey to Astuta Shrine, v17: Duel at Kitanoji, v19: Fathers and Sons, v28: Red Scorpion, v32: The Hidden, and v35:Homecoming all come to mind), but really, the entire catalog of worth enjoying on equal terms. It’s saying something indeed that the most recent volume of Usagi Yojimbo tells one of the most compelling and moving stories of the entire series. Some edges dull over time, but as a storyteller, Stan Sakai’s edge never does. Usagi Yojimbo has been hailed as one of the greatest independent comics ever. And it is. But it is more than that. It is one of the greatest comics, period. Read every volume. You will be glad that you did.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Emond

    This wonderful addition to the Usagi saga focuses on Jei - the demon who possesses people and kills the "evil" in the world. Actually - Jei seems to kill everyone. We see the origin story of Jei which is not as exciting as it could have been but it is a bittersweet tale of how a good monk sacrifices his soul to save a little girl. We then flash forward to the present day and see a bunch of stories intertwine together with the final climax of killing Jei (who of course escapes to possess someone This wonderful addition to the Usagi saga focuses on Jei - the demon who possesses people and kills the "evil" in the world. Actually - Jei seems to kill everyone. We see the origin story of Jei which is not as exciting as it could have been but it is a bittersweet tale of how a good monk sacrifices his soul to save a little girl. We then flash forward to the present day and see a bunch of stories intertwine together with the final climax of killing Jei (who of course escapes to possess someone new). Inazuma's (who was the last vessel of the demon Jei) story comes to an end and overall it is a sad tale. I kind of wish there was a happier message in the story but this is definitely one of the darker tales and endings to a Usagi tale. What is wonderful to see is a lot of different parts of Usagi's world and cast of characters come together for this story. Stan never fails to deliver a wonderful story with beautiful art.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

    This book was an extremely strong volume in the saga of Usagi - creepy, fast-paced, and thrilling. This is absolutely the way comics should be done and unfortunately not many reach these lofty heights. My only gripe is that Sakai’s art can get too sketchy and rushed looking that, while not hindering the story flow, can sometimes make the details of a panel confusing to understand.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Still my favorite series in comics history, Usagi comes out with another winner. This book's not particularly good for new readers, as it pays off some long-running plotlines involving the demon Jei, who inhabits the body of swordswoman Inazuma. First, Sakai gives us Jei's long overdue origin, and it not only crackles, but leaves plenty of room for future storylines. Then, with a price on Inazuma's head (because only one person realizes Jei's possessed her and she's hunted for a killing committe Still my favorite series in comics history, Usagi comes out with another winner. This book's not particularly good for new readers, as it pays off some long-running plotlines involving the demon Jei, who inhabits the body of swordswoman Inazuma. First, Sakai gives us Jei's long overdue origin, and it not only crackles, but leaves plenty of room for future storylines. Then, with a price on Inazuma's head (because only one person realizes Jei's possessed her and she's hunted for a killing committed while under demonic sway), Usagi runs into the bounty hunters Gen and Stray Dog. Gen - being an old friend of Usagi's and recognizing the signs of Jei's possession - recruits Usagi. A fourth bounty hunter joins the group, with his own agenda. Sakai unfolds the story leisurely, but intently, moving the story toward its tragic conclusion. The cartooning is some of the best you'll ever see, with a strong use of shadows where required, but mostly, excellet use of framing, zooms and body language to get into the nuances of each character. This book's a terse thriller, and it's delivered with a master's assurance.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I knew Jei was in this book, but, because I didn't read the back cover, I wasn't aware we'd get to see his origin story in this collection. Because of this, the reveal was a bit of a surprise for me, for which I am thankful. Overall, this collection ranks high on my list as one of the best Usagi Yojimbo collections. Similar to others on my "best" list, this feels very much like the culmination of / payoff for a lot of plot threads that had come before it. It also features some fan favorite chara I knew Jei was in this book, but, because I didn't read the back cover, I wasn't aware we'd get to see his origin story in this collection. Because of this, the reveal was a bit of a surprise for me, for which I am thankful. Overall, this collection ranks high on my list as one of the best Usagi Yojimbo collections. Similar to others on my "best" list, this feels very much like the culmination of / payoff for a lot of plot threads that had come before it. It also features some fan favorite characters and a strange and mysterious newcomer named Isamu. I'm no longer surprised, but continually impressed by Stan Sakai's ability to churn out fresh, enveloping stories, 30 years after he first introduced the world to his rabbit ronin.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    This is the 24th collection of Stan Sakai's long running series about a ronin. Don't let the fact that Usagi is a rabbit put you off. These are excellent stories set in a Japan that very much resembles the feudel Japan of history and Mifune movies. The story is inspired by the legend and tales of Mushashi Miyamoto, but this is a much more enjoyable telling of those tales than any of the other versions that I have read, or tried to read. Here Usagi gets dragged into a bounty hunting situation as This is the 24th collection of Stan Sakai's long running series about a ronin. Don't let the fact that Usagi is a rabbit put you off. These are excellent stories set in a Japan that very much resembles the feudel Japan of history and Mifune movies. The story is inspired by the legend and tales of Mushashi Miyamoto, but this is a much more enjoyable telling of those tales than any of the other versions that I have read, or tried to read. Here Usagi gets dragged into a bounty hunting situation as an oni has inhabited the body of an old friend of his. To tell more would rob you of discovering the charm and joy of these stories.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas

    Encore une chouette aventure d'Usagi. Ou plutôt un récit des multiples infamies comises par Jei, le démon le plus résistant qu'ait rencontré Usagi. Incarné cette fois dans une femme recherchée par tous les chasseurs de prime, il exsude encore la violence et la mort, ce qui fait de cet album l'un des plus hard-boiled de la série selon moi : il y a des morts presque à chaque page. Et si la conclusion est quelque part attendue, elle est cependant un peu décevante. Mais à ce détail près, l'oeuvre de Sta Encore une chouette aventure d'Usagi. Ou plutôt un récit des multiples infamies comises par Jei, le démon le plus résistant qu'ait rencontré Usagi. Incarné cette fois dans une femme recherchée par tous les chasseurs de prime, il exsude encore la violence et la mort, ce qui fait de cet album l'un des plus hard-boiled de la série selon moi : il y a des morts presque à chaque page. Et si la conclusion est quelque part attendue, elle est cependant un peu décevante. Mais à ce détail près, l'oeuvre de Stan Sakai reste belle, grâce à une ligne toujours aussi claire.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vickey

    All Usagi Yojimbo stories are good stories. I have been reading the tales of the ronin rabbit since my dad picked up the first Summer Special for me when I was 5. I read it till it fell apart. I had trouble finding this issue and finally broke down and ordered it online. Now that it is here I can read 25, 26 and 27...I have been waiting three years!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This volume more than almost any other made me want to go back and read it all through again from the beginning. Stan Sakai ties all of these loose threads together so well whenever he does a major story arc like this.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dru

    Like most Usagi stories, this one involves oni!!! Honestly, a lot of these stories are paying off storylines that have been running through previous volumes, so it's a lot more satisfying if you have read the previous chapters. The art is, as usual, incredible. Like most Usagi stories, this one involves oni!!! Honestly, a lot of these stories are paying off storylines that have been running through previous volumes, so it's a lot more satisfying if you have read the previous chapters. The art is, as usual, incredible.

  17. 5 out of 5

    E

    Jei and Stray Dog are two of my favorites and they reappear here. A disappointment is that Stray Dog has lost his unique characterization/voice, gone from grim to whiny.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    The continued adventures of a samurai rabbit, this volume exploring the back story of a demonic antagonist as s/he is tracked down by bounty hunters.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Drake S.F.

    No es el mejor de Usagi, pero el mínimo no lo pierde. Demasiadas referencias a tomos anteriores que tengo olvidados.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Excellent as always. A nice exploration of Jei and a bit more of his background.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David H.

    Retroactive Review (12 Sep 2021): Please see my review of the series here under the first volume. Retroactive Review (12 Sep 2021): Please see my review of the series here under the first volume.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Essi

  24. 5 out of 5

    Name Pending

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matt Nelson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kalitro

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brant Hashii

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy Grabia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maurycy

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