For those of you who missed it, SAMURAI JACK was an exceptional animated program that explored with a lone samurai – Jack – who found himself thrown into the future where those left living were subjects ruled over by the evil lord Aku. Indeed, it was Aku who was responsible for stranding our hero far from his own time, and Jack would stop at nothing to see the villain vanquished but only if he could be returned to his own world. It lasted for a few seasons, and, although there were some lingering rumors about both an animated follow-up as well as a live-action treatment, nothing has materialized. And that’s exceedingly sad because so much of SAMURAI JACK was incredible. Many of its tales were simply told – little dialogue with little more than colorful sketchings rendered in dynamic strokes and vivid close-ups – but were terrific little narratives all built around justice being served by a man on a singular mission.
Thankfully, the talented writers and artists over at IDW Publishing have resurrected Jack in an all-new monthly format, and I, for one, find it thrilling to know that there’s life still in them bones for Jack!
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or character. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
On his quest to locate what remains of the ‘threads of time’ from the ‘rope of eons’ that Aku used to disrupt the universe, Jack happens across a beautifully idyllic village, one that appears to have been lifted out of Earth’s ancient Greek or Roman era. However, as our samurai soon learns, things are not what they seem, and the town defender – a stoic but friendly fellow named Gloer the Great – might have more in common with our leading nomad than what is first perceived.
What made SAMURAI JACK such an engaging program is that all of the action inevitably lead to some lesson for Jack or the souls he encountered on his journeys. In many ways, I remember likening it to the stories of the classic STAR TREK program: it would all start with some set-up and character introductions, and, before it was all over, some fundamental message would be enforced along with an important lesson learned. Regardless of the circumstances, what always elevated the tales from the ordinary to the extraordinary was the fact that they were laced with sentiments of hope. Nothing – even the most dire situation – couldn’t be overcome because that’s what people did, and that’s the role of the hero in society. JACK followed that template, and there’s really very little like it on TV today, especially for children.
The monthly comic book appears (at least, so far as this issue is concerned) to follow that same format: set the parameters, introduce the players, and then have at it … but let it all wrap up with some sense that tomorrow will be another day, life will continue, and in spite of any adversary hope prevails. Writer Jim Zub must’ve been a fan of the show, as he’s tapped into that vein for those who appreciated it for what it was and he’s begun delivering much of the same. In fact, it all feels and looks so reminiscent of the animation I’m inclined to find my DVD sets and pop ‘em in when I have a few minutes … and I’ll definitely be back here in 30 days to see what’s next in store for our fabled Jack!
SAMURAI JACK #3 is published by IDW Publishing, and SAMURAI JACK is the creation of Genndy Tartakovsky. The book is written by Jim Zub; the art is provided by Andy Suriano; the colors are done by Josh Burcham; the lettering has been completed by Shawn Lee; and the book is edited by Carlos Guzman. The installment comes with the cover price of $3.99 … and that’s a bargain if you care as much about this character, this world, and his adventures as I do. Thumbs up to all involved for capturing the magic once more!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you’re anything like this fan of SAMURAI JACK (meaning that you miss seeing Jack on TV), then you’re likely to be surprised and delighted in IDW’s new monthly. JACK has everything that made the television show what it was – small moments of character, striking visuals, and frenetic combat action – all set in the ‘fish out of water’ storyline that carried our samurai from the beginning thru the end of his program. Aku’s still busy dealing his dastardly deeds, but it looks as if Jack has a plan linked to the threads of time that maybe – just maybe – may help him find a way back to where and when he belongs … assuming he can survive long enough!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at IDW Publishing provided me with a digital reading copy of SAMURAI JACK #3 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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