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.
Today, IDW’s Khan mini-series comes to a close. It has been an interesting ride thus far as the creators attempted to do a new spin on this classic character given that the current Star Trek movies have rebooted the entire universe and last year’s Star Trek: Into Darkness thus gave us a new Khan for this reboot. The first two issues of the series were quite decent, largely because it was all setup to lead into the meat of the story. The third and fourth issues however have proven to be not as good and the story has pretty much just dragged along.
And now we have the fifth and final issue, wrapping everything up. My complaints from the previous two reviews still exist. The art is off, the characterisation is… also off. I don’t know. I just couldn’t get into this at all. But, it was kind of nice that everything was wrapped up for the most part. But still, I get the feeling that there just hasn’t been enough room to explore the entire story in just five issues. It is simply too intricate!
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.
The wind-up has now begun. In October IDW started this new tie-in series to this year’s Star Trek: Into Darkness and its been an interesting ride of sorts. The first two issues were quite decent and I kind of did enjoy them to a fair degree, but the third issue wasn’t so good. It was sort of expected I suppose, since this is an origin series, and there is a lot of ground for writer Mike Johnson to cover here. That was indeed one of the problems with issue #3 since it pretty much moved through the entire story at a very fast clip.
The new issue does thing slightly different. It tells a more focused story, for starters, but the art is still a bit off, largely in terms of how the characters are drawn, their faces particularly. This is the penultimate issue of this mini-series, since issue #5 next month is the end and we will, hopefully, get to the beginning of the movie itself and see how things were brought to that state with Khan, or rather, John Harrison as he was known in the first half of the movie.
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my twelfth and final pick is actually a tie. Its no secret to anyone reading my blog and reviews that there are two series that have come out this year that have had a great impression on me and have really taken me on a bit of a nostalgia trip, one of them more than the other. The first is Red Sonja from Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s excellent new Red Sonja series from Dynamite and the second is Samurai Jack Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s brand-new series Samurai Jack from IDW Publishing, based on the Cartoon Network series of the same name from the early 2000s.
Hit the break to see why I picked these characters.
Well, here we are. This will be the final CPoTW post of the year, even though today is the last new comic book day of 2013. Just the way these schedules all work out and all.
Moving on, this was a somewhat light week in some respects since I didn’t get around to as many comics as I wanted to. Quite a few titles slipped through the cracks, which is happening more and more given the sheer volume of how many comics are (generally) released each and every week. Still, one bright ray of sunshine in all of this was that I managed to read three entire graphic novels this week, all of them for Batgirl, with one featuring Cassandra Cain and the other two featuring Stephanie Brown, both characters who are much in demand among several outspoken communities of fans to be revived in the New 52. Having read these graphic novels, I certainly agree with that!
Looks like its going to be the month of busy weeks. The last two weeks I’ve read two graphic novels each along with all my regular monthlies and this past week proved to be no different. Both Detective Comics Volume 4 and The Flash Volume 4 proved to be exceedingly good and now I have two more series that I need to catch up on for the New 52. Tall order, but doable. And as regards the usual monthlies, there were comics across the board, in all sorts of ways: genres, publishers, characters, etc, etc. The year has slowly transformed over the months into a really solid year for comics overall.
I still haven’t made any dent in the pile of graphic novels I have to read, but I’m not too worried about any of it, to be honest. Already used to that phenomenon from my novel reading.
If Marvel’s Painkiller Jane, Image’s Velvet and IDW’s Illegitimates are any indication, then spy/detective stories are on the rise in the comics scene, and I think that its all the better for it. Helps break the monotony of superheroes everywhere, and it helps Image and IDW particularly in continuing to offer a diverse portfolio to readers, to draw them in and do some really fun stuff. Of course, Velvet and Illegitimates are twists on the classic James Bond-style setting.
The former is based on the premise that the secretary is a former agent, quite lethal in fact, whereas the latter is based on the premise that the super secret agent left a string of babies during his escapades all over the world. And the latter is what we are concerned with here. Illegitimates basically runs off with that premise and it sets up a situation where the so-called illegitimates come to the notice of the organisation and are brought in (or will be brought in, I should say). The writing is decent, if a bit bland, and the art is similar.
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.