The close of sixteenth century Japan is regarded as the Age of Civil Wars, as feudal lords fought amongst themselves for land and power. When one leader finally rose above the others and was proclaimed Shogun, a peace came upon Japan and the samurai warriors found themselves suddenly unemployed. Many of these ronin turned to banditry to survive; others found work with minor lords. And a small number traveled the musha shugyo -- the warrior pilgrimage -- to hone their spiritual and martial skills. But whether they took the honest road or the crooked path, the ronin all found one common link -- they were generally less than welcome. Such is the tale of Usagi Yojimbo, the rabbit samurai. Written and illustrated by Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo is a masterful adaptation of samurai legend to sequential art.
Featured here is the front cover to Usagi Yojimbo #3, originally published in June of 1996. In this story, "The Wrath of the Tangled Skein," Usagi must unravel the mystery involved with a young woman suddenly falling deathly ill...supernatural forces are suspected to be the cause. The monster about to pounce on Usagi is called a nue -- a Japanese mythological creature with the head of a monkey, a badger's body, a tiger's legs and a snake for a tail. Illustration by Stan Sakai.