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.
Author and artist team of Tim Marquitz and J. M. Martin got together last year to form their own publishing company, the small press known as Ragnarok Publications. As one of their first projects, they launched a kickstarter for an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories with a very common theme: kaiju. The man with the idea here was Nickolas Sharps, a fellow blogger and writer who had recently seen the movie Pacific Rim and after enjoying the hell out of it, he got the idea to do an anthology about kaiju since it seemed as if the genre was rather sparse in terms of original fiction.
Needless to say, the kickstarter was mightily successful and just yesterday I finished reading the anthology in its entirety. As someone who had a tiny hand in bringing the project together (I suggested some of the authors who were accepted for the anthology), I’m really pleased with the final product. The anthology has exceeded my expectations and I’m quite happy to say that it is one of my most fun readings of the year so far, and we are only like 36 days in! Tim and Nick assembled some great talent for this anthology and their hardwork and that of J. M. has definitely paid off I think.
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.
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.
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.
Managed to read a handful of more comics this week, since there were a lot of titles released that I was really interested in, and a couple from previous weeks that I hadn’t been able to get around to at the time. As usual, it was all a mixed reading experience, with some really good comics mixed in with some bad ones and a few that straddle the fence between the two extremes. More positive ones than negative ones.
No graphic novels this week sadly, since this week was a real slog in reading, again, and I was struggling for time in general with everything else too. Perhaps this coming week can be different!
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.
Slow reading this week, mostly because of the fact that my weekend was taken up entirely with celebrations for Diwali, an annual Indian festival, and because the National Novel Writing Month began on the weekend too. So I was either having a blast with cousins, and getting tired out a lot, or doing lots of writing on a new project which you can read about here.
Right mix of comics once again, some of them disappointing, some of them unexpectedly good, and some in between as well. Got another graphic novel finished this week, which was good. I’ve had it on my reading list for ages now, so its nice to get that out of the way and reduce my immense reading pile by that much at least. Pretty tough to maintain a reading list as long as mine.
Next week, or this week rather, should be good since there are a lot of cool comics coming out. And I’m hoping to get another graphic novel out of the way. We’ll see.
And finally this mini-series is at an end. Its a been a long road, all five weeks of October to be precise, but the story is done and dusted and there have been some important changes in the status quo of Feudal Japan, changes that have rocked the island nation and its foundations. And there have been heroes here, and villains aplenty as Rob Levin brought this screenplay to life as a comic.
When I first picked up this mini-series, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it turned out. Not really. I thought it’d be decent fun and that was that at the time. But then I began reading it, tuning in each week for the next installment, and finally we are here as Rob Levin closes out the story of Kichiro and Orochi, of a Vampire invasion of Nippon. This week’s final issue turned out to be fairly good, but it was still plagued by all the deficiencies of the previous issue unfortunately.
As we move into the final days of the month, Rob Levin’s comics adaptation of the “Rising Sun” screenplay by Shahin Chandrasoma also draws to a close. Today sees the release of the fourth issue, and then there is one more left till this mini-series completes up and we get the full story of Kichiro’s coming of age from a gaijin to a samurai.
By injecting vampires and their brutality into this story of feudal japan and a denied romance between Kichiro and the Shogun’s daughter, Mitsuko, Levin and Chandrasoma have done much to create their own (inspired) setting. Its certainly been a fun ride this far but the cracks are somewhat showing now. This remains a pretty fun mini-series, but I’m still waiting for it to really step up.