In Review: Samurai Jack #1
The covers: Ten stunning covers. Any of these would please any Jack fan! The Regular cover is by Andy Suriano with Jack striking a ready pose with his sword as he’s about to be attacked by five creatures. The vibrant orange background really sells this image! Cover RI is by Rob Gullory with a very different Jack, not so cartoony and very skinny, going after Aku. I love the angle of this piece, shown from the perspective looking up as the two titans spar. The purple is also very striking. The Subscription cover is a tight close-up of Jack by his creator Genndy Tartakovsky. It’s amazing! Jack’s sword is reflecting the light, matching the bright white logo, all of which is highlighted by orange and rose. The first RE (Retailer Exclusive) cover is the Awesome Con Exclusive by Bryan Turner. This is a terrific shot of an angry Jack in action against some giant bugs. The coloring on this one is also gorgeous! The next RE cover is from beguiling.com with Tartakovsky again providing art, this time Jack’s completely in gray, chopping his logo in half. That’s great emotion on his face. Emerald City Comicon has the next RE cover with Aku pulling Jack to his face. This is a frightening antagonist and a smooth looking Jack created by Sean Galloway. Sergio Quijada created The Hastings RE cover, which is a stunning shot of Jack against an orange sky surrounded by allies from television episodes. Great! The Phantom Comics RE by Jim Zub looks like a Japanese poster: the writing on the sides is Japanese with English credits at the bottom, Aku is at the center top, while Jack stands in profile on the top of a mountain. Tremendous! The Newbury Comics RE has an incredibly detailed city that Jack is leaping against, his sword raised above his head to strike at an irate Aku. Phenomenal cover by Ethen Beavers. The final cover is the Rhode Island ComicCon RE by Craig Rousseau with Jack riding a gigantic flying insect above a city. Great! Overall grades: Regular A+, RI A-, Subscription A+, Awesome A, beguiling A+, Emerald A-, Hastings A+, Phantom A+, Newbury A+, and Rhode A-
The story: This was a wonderful way for Jack to come back into our lives, like Lawrence of Arabia sans camel, a lone samurai slowly emerges from the desert walking towards us during a sandstorm. He is seeking guidance from a wizard on how to return home to change the past so the apocalyptic future he’s in won’t exist. This story creates the perfect balance of the original series created by Genndy Tartakovsky: action and humor. Jim Zub starts things in very dramatic fashion with Jack on his long walk. The bottom of Page 3 has the typical wizard demand, but Page 4, panels one through three are cool and devastatingly funny. Page 5 concisely summarizes why Jack needs the Threads of Time, this saga’s title, and he’s soon on his way to get the first one. He has a slick, quick and funny confrontation before falling into some action against the seven beings he’s fighting on the cover. Zub has given each a distinct personality for readers to latch on to, and, like the series, some are frightening and some are funny. Pages 17 and 18 are the perfect capper to the fighting and Page 20 the only way this could end. Fun stuff to be sure! Overall grade: A+
The art: Not only doing the artwork, Andy Suriano also does the coloring and it all looks great on every page. The opening is a wonderful four panel progression of Jack that would make Will Eisner proud. Helping set the mood is the fantastic coloring where even the border tells the reader that they’re in the desert. Once in the wizard’s hut, I was immediately taken by the design of this ancient man, from his jagged teeth to his square ending fingers. He looked straight out of the cartoon. The splash page on 5 reminded me of the show as well as it’s framed in a manner that was used to tell flashbacks. My only concern going into this book was how the action would be handled. The television series really had an incredible sense of style to the action, so would the comic even be able of getting close to the same power? Oh, yes–It does! From the drawing of Jack’s sword on Page 10, the first swings on 12, the overconfident mutant that’s a great parody on 13, the speed of 14, the classing halving of technology on 15, and the collision on 16 are amazing moments. And making things even cooler during the fight are Jack’s facial expression during the fight, Pages 13 and 14 were perfect! The colors heighten the action scenes with 14 and 15 being gorgeous. Overall grade: A+
The letters: I loved the issue’s title on Page 2, rolling along with the blown sand. Shawn Lee does solid dialogue, and his sound effects are the perfect touch on this book. Artist Suriano includes a few noticeable sounds directly onto his artwork, but Lee does a gleefully great job during the final scene: PEWs, PARRYs, SPLASHes, and a ZORCH, to name a few. These are the perfect cherry on top of this comic. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Masters Zub, Suriano, and Lee have done great honor to this samurai on his quest to get home. They are continuing his saga with a fantastic tale and incredible art. Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.