It seems like continuing your television show in comic form is all the rage these days. We’ve seen shows like Angel and Buffy do it with proper seasons, we’ve seen shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender do it even though it has a proper animated follow-up, and now we have our latest contender, Samurai Jack.
And I for one am excited to have him back. The Samurai Jack cartoon was known for a lot of things, and I was worried it wouldn’t carry over well to the comic, but this first issue really helped to alleviate a lot of the worry.
For one, the art in this book is fantastic. It captures the spirit of the cartoon’s style, which I won’t even attempt to try and describe, but it has this muted, colorful design to it. With a heavy focus on background and lighting, not something you often see in cartoons or comics. The comic also does a fantastic job of capturing the frantic speed of the action sequence in the series. Most notably during Jack’s first major fight in his “Gladiator pit.”
The design of the new characters are just as bizarre and unique as they were in the cartoon, but when given a playbook that most anything is allowed it’s hard to go wrong.
More importantly, it kept the spirit of the writing (or lack of writing alive). I always loved that you could go minutes without any characters speaking and that for the most part Jack could remain silent especially when needs to focus. There is a fairly sizable chunk of this book in the middle where Jack doesn’t speak (or grunts) and it is rather nice. Granted, characters around him do speak so they aren’t completely silent pages, but I like that they kept it for the main character.
As for the comic story itself, it starts off by giving us a general overview of the plot of the series. Jack is trying a way to either return to his time (he was misplaced by his foe) or defeat Aku in the present day. The comic picks up an indeterminate time after the end of the original series. Jack is following a new thread to find his way home. The titular, “threads of time,” are his newest quest. And it seems to be an intriguing hook for the comic as it gives him an over arching goal while allowing for very one and done issues.
In this issue for instance, Jack finds himself in a gladiator pit for lack of a better term. Where he needs to fight for his survival, and even that wouldn’t guarantee he gets what he came for. But Jack is a thinking man’s samurai and he gets to show that during this very fun sequence.
Review 7 (Out of 7): This comic offers everything I want in a number 1, a feel for the characters and the world, a complete story and a dangling carrot that makes me want to continue reading without feeling cheated. Samurai Jack #1 is a worthy follow-up to the animated series and can’t wait to see what the future holds.