Samurai Jack #1 by Jim Zub (Comics Review)

If, like me, you grew up in the heyday of Cartoon Network programming of the late 90s and early 2000s, then you are well familiar with the Samurai Jack animated series, created by Genndy Tartakovsky. The series ran from 2001-2004 to great acclaim and it is one of the very few CN series that I remember very fondly. It was, perhaps, one of the darkest cartoons I’d ever watched, but it was told in a way that the grim and gritty really balanced out with all the excellent humour.

Recently, IDW announced an ongoing comic series for Samurai Jack, bringing the character back after nearly a decade since the original days. I could not have been more excited. The first issue launches tomorrow, and to celebrate, IDW has commissioned no less than 10 covers for it! Its amazing to see the kind of passion that the publisher is putting into this project, and having just read the first issue, I will say that they are off to a fantastic start.

Samurai Jack 01Jack’s (eternal) quest has been to escape the dark future where the Demon Wizard Aku rules supreme and return to his own time, where he can defeat him once and for all. Across 50+ episodes, we saw Jack often come close to his goal but he was always thwarted by one thing or another. It really is a sad tale when you think about it, but Jack is no less an amazing hero, and Aku no less a vile monster for that. The animated series had originality, an excellent execution, and some great fun characters and animation to help it move along. And voiced by superb talents like John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, Mako Iwamatsu and Kevin Michael Richardson, it was all a surreal experience.

Jim Zub, as the writer on this new ongoing series, has done a great job of capturing that same sense of wonder and charm that was there in the cartoons. The dialogue is always spot on, especially in the way that the bad guys, as featured in that awesome cove by Andy Suriano, are introduced before they end up fighting Jack. Its like a rotating who’s who of bad guys, with each villain being more outrageous than the last. Arcus the Clubifier, Thurn the Thorny, Clari the Significant Fist. Robuttinski the Butt Blaster. Headclaw the Stabbist. I was laughing so hard at that panel that I almost teared up. This is the way that Genndy Tartakovsky handled things in the animated series alongside his fellow writers.

But yes, its the dialogue that really gets things right for me. Jim Zub proves to be a natural in that regard. He balances the seriousness and the cheekiness extremely well. And the entire premise, where Jack has to find all the pieces of an ancient relic that will allow him to go back to his own time and place, is also pretty much a classic Samurai Jack plot, from what I remember. There’s no way that I couldn’t have loved this comic. If this is the kind of writing that is being offered, then I’m definitely in it for the long haul, because I had a ton of fun reading this comic, laughing throughout at some of the improbabilities and what not.

The interior artwork is by Andy Suriano, who did the main cover, with Shawn Lee on the lettering. If Jim nails the script and dialogue perfectly, then Andy passes the art test with flying colours. His Jack is Jack from Samurai Jack. Reading through the comic and looking at all that art made me really nostalgic for the days of the animated series. We don’t get to meet Aku himself as yet, but Andy definitely knows Jack and the entire setting inside out. His pencilwork is always spot on, especially in Jack’s design and his facial expressions and body language, and his colours are pretty much perfect as well. Things are a bit, just the slightest bit, brighter than I remember the show being, but that’s a non-issue really. Andy has stayed true to the source material and yet he is already leaving his own mark on the franchise. One great example of this is in the designs of the villains that I mentioned above. One of the most hilarious panels in the comic is the scene where Robuttinsky the Butt Blaster actually shoots at Jack with his actual butt blaster. How can you not laugh at something like that and not remember the good old days of the animated series?

Genndy Tartakovsky Subscription Variant

Genndy Tartakovsky Subscription Variant

The issue begins with a solemn intro of Jack and the setting, and it ends on a similar note. Jim makes it quite clear that he has a really epic story in mind for the indomitable hero that I love and remember, with Andy making it clear that he’s here to stay as well. If I could fast forward time, I’d already be reading the second issue of this comic, and not wait the painful but requisite month in between.

Rating: 10/10

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Posted on October 22, 2013, in Comics Reviews, General, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

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