And so we come to it. The final installment of Jim Zub’s first arc on Samurai Jack. At least, I think this is the final installment, considering how the story here plays out. Its been one hell of a ride thus far and Jim Zub, along with artists Andy Suriano and Josh Burcham and Shawn Lee has done some great work. The previous four issues have been intensely enjoyable, largely in part because the stories and the art have stayed true to the original concept of the Samurai Jack setting, which is a pretty huge plus as far as I am concerned.
With issue #5 we see how Jack’s quest to find all the threads of time and rewound the Rope of Eons plays out to its conclusion. Jack has fought numerous monsters and villains to get to this point and now, finally, he is on his way to collect the final thread, which is in the possession of none other than Aku himself, Jack’s greatest nemesis, and the one responsible for removing him from his time in the first place. All the things that I wanted from this issue, I got, because Jim understands the setting and the characters, and because the artists are just so damn good in every possible way.
As part of my “end of year” lists for 2013, I did a post recently for The Founding Fields where I mentioned the 5 best new comics of the year. Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s Samurai Jack from IDW made it pretty high on that list and for good reason. It is a damn amazing series that I’ve enjoyed from day one and the creators have really taken me on a bittersweet nostalgia trip with it. Seeing Jack back again like this was a highlight of the previous year and with Samurai Jack #4 it looks like the creators are starting the year off with a bang.
The previous issues have had a big mix of situations for Jack to tackle. Outright villains, outright villainy, subtle emotional subtext and more has all been seen so far. Samurai Jack #4 goes back to basics somewhat, presenting a clear target for the hero to take down and prove his worth once more in his quest to rewound the Rope of Eons so that he can return to his own time. And of course, the art is amazing as always, most of all the colours, which were just brilliant altogether.
In the last few years, a really interesting trend has surfaced. When it comes to the entertainment industry, specifically the visual media segment, movies based on Marvel Comics characters have set a new benchmark for box office success in the superheroes genre. DC Comics characters have struggled to meet those same successes outside of the tentpole movies like the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and the recent Man of Steel. On the flipside, television shows featuring DC Comics characters have established their own high benchmarks that Marvel Comics characters are struggling to meet, rather desperately so. Case in point, the brand-new Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been hemorraging viewers every single week while DC’s Arrow, now in its second season, has continued apace and its success has led to DC green-lighting several more shows.
However, when it comes to the animation divisions, there is much more equity between the Big 2 of the comics industry, and this is where Wolverine and the X-Men steps in. A fourth animated adaptation of the X-Men characters, the show brings along a whole different team, and things start off with a bang, with a three-parter opening arc which puts the X-Men on the offensive from the get go and touches on various different areas of the X-Men universe. It is bold, it is ambitious, and based on the first three episodes it is also rather good.
When Genndy Tartakovsky was at the helm of the Samurai Jack series over at Cartoon Network, one thing I distinctly remember was that often times the stories would be quite simple and straightforward, bu they would also have some deeper meanings. And often they could get very emotional too. In the first two issues of Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s Samurai Jack comics for IDW Publishing, a little bit of that emotional connection was missing. The stories were fantastic, and so was the art, but there was still that one missing component to them, in hindsight.
With the third issue, released today, however that all changes. As with most Samurai Jack stories, this one involves Jack coming to a new place, meeting the local bigwigs, fighting some monsters, and getting out in the nick of time thanks to his amazing sword skills. But there’s still a bit of a twist here, and with that twist, Jim shows that he can keep things fresh for the readers as Jack searches for the Threads of Time to rewound the Rope of Eons and get back to his own time in order to defeat Aku. As with the previous two issues, I loved this one as well.
Growing up, my television entertainment was defined by Cartoon Network. And in those days, the 90s, no program was as popular or as timeless as Scooby-Doo Where Are You? Or that’s what I like to think. CN ran a ton of reruns in those days and this program was one of them. It was all cheeky humour, over the top situations, excitable plots, lots of goofy-creepy and a talking dog with a bunch of teenagers/young adults who solved mysteries. I used to love it, and still do. You hand me an season of SDWAY today and I’ll watch it straight without taking a break.
Which brings me to this comic, the first in a new ongoing (hopefully an ongoing!) from DC that pairs up the talking mutt with Batman and Robin in a match that is almost made in heaven. SDWAY originally debuted in the mid-60s, roughly around the same time as the goofiest and most hilarious Batman live-action series ever, so it makes sense to pair the two of them together. Sholly Fisch, who’s worked on numerous animated projects over the years, especially DC ones, makes for an almost natural writer for this, and she delivers the goods in full.
Last month, IDW launched a Samurai Jack ongoing series, penned by Jim Zub and drawn by Andy Suriano. It was a fantastic launch with a story that was very true to the core concept and feel of the old animated series from Cartoon Network and the same could easily be said for the artwork as well. As a fan of the old animated series, I had tremendous fun with the first issue and had been waiting ever since for the second issue, which goes on sale today.
The second issue continues the story that Jim began in the first issue, in which Jack learned of a new way to get back to his own time and ultimately defeat Aku, the demon who is his greatest enemy. Jim continues with everything that made the first issue so good and he maintains the same vibe and atmosphere that defined the animated series. What really matters is that the second issue is pretty much every bit as good as the debut issue.
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.