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Samurai Jack #5 (Comics Review)

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.

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At The Risk of Offending: Internet Controversies

Of late, it seems that hardly a week goes by when there isn’t some kind of controversy on the internet. Whether we talk about political gaffes, authors having meltdowns, reviewers calling each other out, authors taking the piss out of other people, publishers doing some really dumb things, fans and geeks laying bare their prejudices and revealing their baser thinkings or whatever else, it all happens with amazing regularity. I’ve seen some really startling controversies of late. And there are two that I want to focus on for this post.

The first of these deals with the controversy surrounding a variant cover that Cartoon Network issued for an upcoming issue of Powerpuff Girls, which are currently being published by IDW Publishing. The cover showed the three sisters in a supposedly sexist and exploitative light, and a comics retailer in the US took incredible exception to it and was quite vocal about it.

The second of these deals with something a bit low key. A fellow blogger posted a really interesting commentary on how a lot of readers today are assigning genders to books and are dividing them by who should and should not be reading those books, creating an even bigger stir in the ocean of sexism and misogyny in the book publishing industry, just to name one of the concerns. Another friend took strong exception to some of the things said in the post, and there was quite an interesting twitter conversation on both sides.

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Frozen: The Siblings Ascendant

So by now, I’m sure that most people have heard of Disney’s latest animated venture, Frozen, which has ended up smashing quite a few records, and has set some new challenges for Hollywood to follow. The movie has been both a critical and commercial success, whether we talk in its home North American territories or globally. All through the last three months, it has been the talk of much discussion pretty much everywhere. Myself, I wasn’t even aware of the movie until quite recently. I’m usually not all that big on animated movies these days, mostly because they’ve just fallen off my radar of late. But then I started hearing from social media friends about Idina Menzel’s track “Let It Go” from the movie and the portrayal of sibling relationships in the movie. And I was interested.

I saw the movie a little over two weeks ago, in 3D. Given how long the movie came out, I feel quite fortunate that I managed to get such a late viewing of it here in Dubai, but I suppose that speaks for the incredible success of the movie in the first place. I went in with some moderately high expectations, nothing particularly specific, but expecting a similar kind of wonder that I’ve felt on watching Disney’s classics from the 80s and 90s. And you know what? I came away amazed and ecstatic, brimming with energy verve to talk about it. For my money’s worth, it was one of the best movies of 2013, and I gave it place of honour as the best movie of the year, even above Pacific Rim (review), which I just loved.

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Samurai Jack #4 (Comics Review)

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.

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Best of 2013 Part 2c: Monthly Comics

A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.

So, with the novels and graphic novels already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthlies of the year. This is the final “best of” list I’m doing for 2013 that involves reading.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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Samurai Jack #3 (Comics Review)

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.

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Samurai Jack #2 by Jim Zub (Comics Review)

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.

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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.

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Young Justice Season 1 Eps 1-2 (TV Show Review)

I’ve long been a fan of DC’s various animated projects. Whether we are talking about Batman or Superman, Justice League or Batman Beyond or what have you, I’ve enjoyed each and every series. Growing up, the first two series that I mentioned were a large part of my childhood. I watched (or rewatched) several of these series during my college days and I was reminded of why I loved them so much. They presented some definitive versions of the heroes in question, and each and every episode served only to draw me in further. It shouldn’t be a surprise really for you when I mention that I consider Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly to be the definitive voices of Batman and Superman respectively.

Since those good old days of the 90s, DC has put out several more animated series. One of those is Young Justice, which features the young sidekicks of many of the big-name DC superheroes. With an initial line-up of Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash and Superboy, the show starts off rather well, although there are a few negatives that prevented me from really enjoying the first two episodes.

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