The worlds of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and USAGI YOJIMBO are once again reunited for a crossover series with TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1. The comic is the result of a collaboration between Dark Horse Comics, Nickelodeon, and IDW Publishing. Writer and artist Stan Sakai brings us a fun shell-shocked adventure featuring the heroes in a half-shell and the rabbit bodyguard that fans of both series are sure to get a kick out of. Spoiler alert: there is no pizza consumed in this issue!

READ: Want more USAGI YOJIMBO? Our review of USAGI YOJIMBO VOL. 31: THE HELL SCREEN TPB is the perfect entryway! 

Thanks to countless crossovers including one in the 90’s TMNT cartoon series, this is not the rabbit and turtles’ first rodeo together. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1 finds Usagi fending off some intrepid bandits, unintentionally making the road safe for some pilgrims who inform Usagi that the “old one” wants to see him.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Embarking on a Ground Shaking Quest

The “old one” turns out to be Kakera-sensei, the Master Splinter of USAGI YOJIMBO’s world. After Usagi gathers four turtles from the nearby grotto, an incantation by Kakera-sensei summons the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. An obligatory scuffle ensues between the turtles and the kimono clad warriors. Both parties are literally lost in translation. At this point, Sakai’s script starts to shine — the turtles humorously quip in English while Usagi speaks in Japanese.

READ: Want another good crossover series featuring the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES? Our review of BATMAN/TMNT ADVENTURES #1 is just what you need!

Eventually, Kakera-sensei ends the scuffle by speaking to both parties in a common language. We find out that he summoned the Turtles into Usagi’s dimension to embark on a quest to unite a rock back with a larger stone called “the kanameishi.” Reuniting the stones will stop Namazu, an ancient catfish that is causing earthquakes, from destroying Japan. What’s standing between the party and their mission to save Japan? The evil Jei, a self-proclaimed servant of the gods who knows about Kakera-sensei’s mission.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

A World in Living Color

As in all his work, Sakai does an excellent job of integrating Japanese mythology into TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1. We get a little bit of background with the battle that ensued between Namazu and the god of thunder, Kashima-no Okami. Additionally, this is laid out with Sakai’s signature cartoon style and expressive characters. Tom Luth’s colors deserve a special mention because they are absolutely gorgeous to look at and compliment Sakai’s inks well. Seeing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their individually colored masks brought a smile to my face. I think Luth’s colors add life to the panels. If left in black and white, the visuals simply would not have had the same impact.

READ: BATMAN/TMNT is a darker crossover series! Find out what Ra’s Al Ghul and the Shredder are up to! 

The dynamic between the Turtles and Usagi is hilarious. The Turtles find Usagi’s world strange. In one instance, Michaelangelo and Rafael make a remark about a pair of monkey woodcutters looking freaky as they travel. Additionally, Usagi develops a bromance with Leonardo over the course of the issue, and it’s a joy seeing Kakera-sensei kicking ass with the group. Sakai captures the Turtles’ individual personalities successfully overall.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Ultimately, I did walk away with a minor nitpick: Sakai references prior comics such as Kakera-sensei’s appearance and turtles from another dimension. Although this comic works well as a stand-alone issue, only die hard comic fans of both series will get the references. However, I think TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1 is accessible to new readers.

Closing Thoughts on TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1 is a fun, fast-paced start to this crossover series. Although the issue ends on a self-contained note, it’s implied that Usagi and the Turtles will meet once more. Namely, Kakera-sensei tells the Turtles that they will explore Japan another time and returns them to their dimension. Sakai delivers on the action, humor, and layers it all with his signature mix of Japanese mythology and anthropomorphic animals.  In any case, if you’re looking for a fun summer read, then look no further.

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TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1 BY STAN SAKAI
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES/USAGI YOJIMBO #1 delivers on the entertainment factor in spades. 20 years after the last comic crossover series, Sakai has still got it and delivers a fun, action-packed, and hilarious new adventure featuring the Turtles and the rabbit ronin. Luth's colors are icing on an already delicious cake. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!
98 %
ONE SHELL OF A FUN ADVENTURE

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