“Usagi Yojimbo: Traitors of the Earth” is a compilation that features seven comics, one split into three chapters, that follows the adventures of the Ronin Usagi Yojimbo.
The first two, “Usagi and the Kami of the Pond” and “Cut the Plum,” show some of Yojimbo’s backstory. The first is Yojimbo’s old master retelling an old Japanese story of a peasant who went to chop wood, lost his axe in a river, cursed the river which angered the Kami of the river. The peasant begged for forgiveness, got it and, after being tested with a golden axe, a silver axe and his own axe which he said was his, was given the golden axe for being truthful. The moral Yojimbo’s master gives at the end is hilarious. “Cut the Plum” is a two-page comic where Usagi shows Jotaro how to cut a pumpkin that’s atop a stick with hilarious results. Both comics are there for comedic purposes.
After that, things get serious with ‘Traitors of the Earth.” Kitsune and Kiyoko steal a netsuke (a tiny figure carved from bone or ivory) that’s shaped like a skull from a group of samurai. The netsuke turns out to be a very important item that belonged to Lord Miyake and a powerful magician named Hatakeyama wants it. This is an interesting one, especially part three when Yojimbo fights a bunch of zombies. There’s nothing not seeing a rabbit fighting the undead. The buildup to it all is well done and we even meet some old faces along the way.
In “What the Thief Heard” Kiyoko overhears a plot to kill an important merchant and asks Yojimbo to help stop it from happening. It’s a decent story though it doesn’t hold up to many of Sakai’s other stories. Skip it.
“The Hidden Fortress” is where Yojimbo helps out a mercenary who has just killed off a group of bandits get to a village for help. The outcome is predictable but as a whole it’s an intense, action packed and enjoyable read.
“A Place to Stay” is about the what happened to Yojimbo after the last chapter where he is badly injured by the remaining bandits and is finding refuge in a peasant’s house. Just like the previous comic, this one is decent with a short, one-sided fight scene at the end.
Finally, “The Death of Lord Hikiji” is where Yojimbo finds his old clan member, Masak, who is still looking for Lord Hikiji, the enemy of their clan. Masaki thinks he has found Hikiji in the town he’s in right now and plans to avenge his master’s death. A solid comic with a strong message at the end.
All in all, “Usagi Yojimbo: Traitors of the Earth” is a good Usagi Yojimbo compilation with some medieval Japan action a hint of humor.