“Gotta get back, back to the past. Samurai Jack. Jack. Jack. Jack.”
Those are words from the theme song of the Genndy Tartakovsky’s animated Samurai Jack, which aired 52 episodes on Cartoon Network from August 10, 2001, to October 29, 2004.
I was gripped because the stories more closely resembled anime than American cartoons, and I do love my variety.
Well, there has been good news for me and other Jack fans: For the last year or so, IDW Publishing has been publishing a new comic based on the series, and the twelfth issue just hit local comics shops!
Previously in SAMURAI JACK: “Aku senses Jack’s unexpected new flaw and calls forth a manhunt like no other. Soldiers, monsters, and bounty hunters scour the land for the weakened samurai warrior. Is anywhere safe?”
LIVING UP TO THE SERIES
Like the show, this book has been filled with battles and surprises. Jack continues to seek a way back to his original time, and evil Aku remains standing in his way.
This issue features something I thought we’d never actually see – a face-to-face battle between Jack and Aku. In the past, we’d always seen Jack take on Aku’s minions or dupes. This time, Jack takes the battle directly to the owner of the future. My reaction is, “Wow!” It’s like Superman taking on Darkseid in a fist fight!
What I enjoy most about this comic written by Jim Zub of Skullkickers/Figment fame and with art by Andy Suriano is that it’s so very faithful to the series. In fact, my mind was seeing animation flow from panel to panel, which shows how good the comic is! Suriano, who designed characters for the show, discussed revisiting the cult-classic character via press release: “Returning to Samurai Jack is such a personal experience and labor of love for me. It’s like stepping through a time portal back to characters I know as friends and a world that really launched my animation career.” “Samurai Jack is an irresistible mix of high adventure, comedy and mythic storytelling,” said Zub during an interview.
MAKING THE CHARACTERS BREATHE
One of Zub’s greatest strengths is his ability to make characters come to life in thought, word and action.
I’ve seen all the episodes of this show many times. I’ve particularly enjoyed the wonderful characters, including Jack and the Scotsman, for instance. They’re not like superheroes. Instead, they’re tortured and fighting with all they have against incredible odds to turn the world around. That’s no small task.
Zub understands this, and makes the battle between Jack and Aku a classic one. He includes a serious revelation about Jack that fans won’t soon forget, too. Yet again, “Wow!”
ART THAT ACHES FOR THE SMALL SCREEN
Just as Zub writes the characters into life, so does Suriano make them pop off the page. I could see Tartakovsky animating them for the small screen, his capturing of the characters is that strong.
Of course, as good as that is, it’s the action and more dramatic sequences that are all-important in Samurai Jack.
In this issue in particular, Suriano delivers. Granted, both Jack and Aku are simplified and yet dynamic. It was critical for us to “buy” the battle, and from page to page, I read with my mouth hung open. Nicely done!
THE BOTTOM LINE: If You Enjoyed the Show, You’ll Love the Book!
I have some friends who simply hated Samurai Jack. It’s a brand of storytelling that not everyone here in the States warms up to, but for those of us who enjoyed the animated series, the comic is a gift from the Cartoon Network gods. Oh, and IDW Publishing as well!
If you miss the program or just enjoy samurai adventures, I highly recommend you get into this comic! It’s like Samurai Jack never left!