Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Reads You Review: SAMURAI JACK #20

IDW PUBLISHING with Cartoon Network – @IDWPublishing and @cartoonnetwork

WRITER: Jim Zub – @jimzub
ARTIST: Andy Suriano
COLORS: Josh Burcham
LETTERS: Shawn Lee
COVER A: Andy Suriano
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (May 2015)

Samurai Jack created by Genndy Tartakovsky

“Mako the Scribe”

"Samurai Jack" is an animated series that was originally broadcast on Cartoon Network from 2001 to 2004 for a total of 52 episodes.  This television series tells the story of a legendary samurai, known as “Jack,” who is transported to a dystopian, futuristic Earth ruled by the tyrannical, shape-shifting, demonic wizard, Aku.  Jack wanders this future, trying to find a method by which he can travel back in time to the era in which he belongs, Feudal Japan, where he plans to defeat Aku, another denizen of Japan’s past.

In the Fall of 2013, IDW Publishing brought Samurai Jack back to life as a new five-issue comic book miniseries written by Jim Zub and drawn by Andy Suriano.  [IDW had begun a partnership with Cartoon Network (CN) to produce original comic books based on CN’s animated properties.]

Zub and Suriano's Samurai Jack comic book was not merely an adaptation of the original animated series; that comic book WAS Samurai Jack.  The initial five-issue run was well-received enough that IDW made it an ongoing comic book series.  Now, however, Samurai Jack the comic book is ending with the publication of its twentieth issue.

Samurai Jack #20 (“Mako the Scribe”) opens in an indeterminate future of the future into which Aku transported Jack.  A wandering scribe named “Mako,” searches for the elusive truth about the one called “Jack.”  Mako says of himself, “I inscribe the words and deeds of important historical figures.”  He is having a difficult time finding little more than exaggerations and second-hand tales of his latest historical subject, Jack... until he meets LaMarr.  This is the first person whom Mako has encountered who seems to have actually met Jack.  Now, LaMarr is offering Mako a chance to meet his subject...

The original Star Wars (1977) would have been perfectly fine without a sequel.  The film's ending offered the first big victory of the small and vulnerable Rebel Alliance against the mighty and evil Galactic Empire.  As the credits rolled on the film, the audience could imagine that this battle of good versus evil would continue forever (or at least for a long time) because this battle is an eternal struggle.

When the immortal Aku flung the “foolish samurai warrior” into the future, this master of darkness made the samurai, who would become known as “Jack,” also an immortal.  Thus, Jack's struggle against Aku becomes an eternal one... or something like that.  We can assume that one day Jack will defeat Aku, but good may defeat evil, but it cannot destroy it.

Samurai Jack #20 is merely the end of this comic book iteration of “Samurai Jack.”  Perhaps, the current comic book market cannot support a long-running, ongoing Samurai Jack comic book.  Zub and Suriano proved that they can produce a high-quality comic book that is true to the original “Samurai Jack,” so I cannot imagine that IDW would just let Samurai Jack die as a comic book.  How can they when the comic book is so good?

In this last (not final?) issue, Zub and Suriano offer a beginning that pretends to be an ending.  Samurai Jack will be back.  Until then, dear reader, find the trade paperback collections and search the back issue bins, but read this series... or re-read it like me.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux - support on Patreon.

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

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