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.
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.
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.
Event tie-in comics are often hobbled by the fact that at some point, no matter how separated their story is from the main narrative, they do have to refer to that, and this can be a challenge in how well it is executed. A lot of things in fiction come down to the execution and comics are no different. Infinity: Heist is a 4-issue mini-series that ties into the ongoing Infinity event, where the galaxy is faced with a really big threat and the great majority of Earth’s heroes have left the planet to deal with that threat, leaving behind the villains and the supervillains. And these guys aren’t sitting quiet.
The first issue of this mini-series was really good. Despite being a tie-in, it felt like its own self-contained story and it focused on characters that I’d never read of or knew of before, so it all felt really fresh, especially since I’ve avoided reading the main event after the second issue, preferring to read it all collectively. The second issue however has a few significant connections with the main story, and since I’m not reading the main story, I felt a bit cut off from what’s going on.
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.
Infinity: Heist #1 makes a 3/3 for Frank Tieri, in terms of how good his three latest releases are. While this one is a tie-in mini-series for an ongoing Marvel event, his other two issues, Batman #23.3: Penguin and Detective Comics #23.4: Man-Bat, are tie-ins to DC’s ongoing Forever Evil event. All three comics are really good, so good in fact that they’ve made Frank a new favourite writer of mine. And if this issue is any indication, then Frank has lots of great things in store for future issues.
The larger story of the Infinity event is that there’s a huge cosmic threat and pretty much most of Earth’s heroes have gone on to battle that threat, leaving Earth largely defenseless. With Thanos also threatening the planet and the Mighty Avengers busy with him there really is no one around to keep all the crooks in line. And this is exactly where Infinity: Heist comes in.
There have been two rather lackluster Batman Villain’s Month issues so far, Joker by Andy Kubert and Riddler by Scott Snyder (plot) and Ray Fawkes (script). They were also two of most highly anticipated issues for this month, so it kind of stings a little bit. The Riddler issue I’m still on the fence about, mostly because it seems to be a very low-key story for the character involved, but that doesn’t change my opinion on it all that much. Which is why when I read the new issue today, I was ecstatic.
I’ve never read any Frank Tieri comic before, to my knowledge, but after reading Batman #23.3, I certainly want to correct that oversight. While I don’t necessarily agree with how Penguin is portrayed, mucho serious and no comic-ishness, it was still a great issue and now I want to also go back to read Detective Comics Volume 3: Emperor Penguin, by John Layman. I’ve read some of the newer issues of that series and I love them, so that’s another motivation right there.