In 1992, Usagi Yojimbo was reimagined as a cosmic swordsman, and those Space Usagi keys are quietly commanding higher prices in recent months.
Sooner or later, Nickelodeon or some other kids’ television network is going to give Usagi Yojimbo his own cartoon series. True, he was featured in a handful of episodes for Nick’s 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Unfortunately, it never progressed into him getting a starring role of his own.
In the comics realm, Usagi has long-held a cult following. The character was so popular that he was given a cosmic update in the early 1990s as “Space Usagi”. In that story, a futuristic descendant of the original Usagi Yojimbo left the confines of Earth and went on interstellar adventures. It is just crazy enough of a concept to fit perfectly with those old Mirage titles.
For those Usagi fans who do not have the budget to afford his first appearance, Space Usagi presents an opportunity of its own. For a fraction of the cost, you can have a piece of the character’s history. Take a look at the keys.
While Space Usagi did not have a starring role in the main story, he was given his own backup tale in 1992’s TMNT #47. This would mark the first appearance of this take on the character. Being a new spin on an old favorite raises the question of what makes a first appearance, but collectors have nonetheless sought this comic over its 29-year history.
There have not been any graded sales for TMNT #47 this year, but last October saw a 9.8 sell for $120. That is double what it brought on average in 2019. This may be a good time to pick up a copy of your own.
As those Miles Morales key issues have proven, collecting the early solicitations for a character can turn into profits. In this case, Space Usagi was featured in a four-page sketchbook added to the back of TMNT #46. If you are collecting those Space Usagi keys, then you will want to put this one on your shopping list. While it does not count as his first in-story appearance, it is the first time audiences got a look at the cosmic samurai bunny.
The fair market values for TMNT #46 are right behind #47. Graded at a 9.8, it averaged $95 last year. In September, one brought $100.
Later that year, Stan Sakai would write and draw the first of a three-issue limited series, Space Usagi. The offbeat comic featuring everyone’s favorite samurai rabbit helped recast Usagi for a different audience after his 1984 debut.
Of all three key issues, Mirage’s Space Usagi #1 from 1992 is the key to have, judging by the FMVs. Last November, a 9.8 – which happened to be the only recorded sale for any graded Space Usagi #1 – sold for $175. The reason for that is rarity. The CGC census has just eight total copies graded, and only three of those are 9.8s.
I hold to the prediction that, one day, the original Usagi will ascend to new heights of popularity with his own American cartoon series. Who knows? He could even star in his own animated movie. It is not too far-fetched to think that Space Usagi could find his way onto the screen as well.