The Hidden is volume 33 of Stan Sakai’s samurai epic, Usagi Yojimbo. It’s a single volume-length story, so while it benefits from having read Usagi’s previous adventures it would also be a suitable jumping on point.
For those who are new to Usagi, a comment from my review of Vol. 1 on Sakai’s choice of medium that has remained relevant throughout the comic’s long run:
“The use of amorphous animals as the characters might seem unusual to first time readers, but it gives Sakai more visual diversity and symbolism to play with, and is executed with such finesse that it quickly becomes impossible to imagine the book without this choice. Don’t mistake the presence of animals as people as a sign this is a ‘kid’s book.’ Usagi Yojimbo covers a period of war, political unrest, and an unhealthy level of danger and can get dark and bloody at times.”
As mentioned above the entirety of this volume is dedicated to one story (with a short chibi-Tomoe strip included at the end). It features both Usagi and series regular Detective Ishida, who’s grown into a huge supporting role. The Hidden, perhaps unsurprisingly since it’s a bit of a spotlight for Ishida, is another mystery and weaves together a number of disparate elements and plot threads in a thoroughly engaging way. I was particularly impressed with the interesting use of certain themes, as well as its careful subversion of expectations.
A secondary undercurrent of this story seems to lead to a turning point in the series again, which makes sense given Usagi Yojimbo changed publishers after this story. The way it’s done is a little ham handed, but it’s fine overall and moves things in proper direction.
As always I really enjoy Usagi’s adventures, and I’m curious to see how things will progress in the future under new publisher IDW.