For those of us born in the 90s, we had a plethora of enjoyable cartoons and TV shows sent our way. Whether from Disney, Nickelodeon, or Cartoon Network, we had some amazing shows between the mid 90s and early 2000s. I was always a big fan of Cartoon Network, and not just anything on Cartoon Network: my favorite shows were part of the CARTOON-CARTOON block.
For those who remember, the CARTOON-CARTOON block was a selection of shows hosted by several Cartoon Network animated stars, shown over the course of 4 hours. Eight shows would air in total. These shows ranged from “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Dexter’s Lab,” to “Courage the Cowardly Dog” and “Cow and Chicken.” The subject of today’s comic is lucky enough to count itself amongst the many nostalgic animated shows of my, and many others’, childhoods: SAMURAI JACK!
Samurai Jack aired on Cartoon Network for four seasons between 2001 and 2004. It was written in a similar way to “Avatar the Last Airbender,” in that it had a set ending in mind. Unlike that show, Jack was cancelled before all of its plot-lines could be resolved.
Many fans were left questioning why such an amazing show would be cancelled, especially without allowing for any kind of conclusion. WELL FEAR NO MORE! IDW has decided to continue this classic series in comic format, with Jim Zub writing. Even IDW describes this book as being the true SEASON 5 of Samurai Jack. To say I was excited for this title would be QUITE an understatement. Although, the fact that this is only a 5 issue mini series keeps me skeptical.
The show’s story was simplistic, yet effective. The titular hero, Jack, is trapped in the future of a world ruled by the dark wizard AKU. He seeks a way to travel back to his own time and undo the evil wrought by the dark lord. In fact, if you have never seen the show, and know nothing about it, all you need to watch is the intro to any episode, and you will be given a basic understanding of the show’s premise, as spoken by AKU himself. And as a good step in the right direction, the comic copies the show intro word for word, in order to introduce unfamiliar readers to the series.
Now, if you have seen this show before, you probably read this intro using the voice of Mako Iwamatsu, the voice of AKU, and Uncle Iroh, of Avatar fame.
The story of this mini series is very much akin to any Jack storyline: he is trying to find a way to return himself to his own time. He seeks out a hermit who may know of a new quest for Jack to undertake to find his way back in time. The hermit tells Jack of an ancient rope, the ROPE OF EONS. A great rope woven by the gods to represent time itself, as time moves forward, the length of rope grows longer.
However, when AKU wished to learn about time, he took the rope for himself to study, and when he learned what he needed, he destroyed the rope, fracturing it into the threads of time.
Jack then sets forth to find the threads and rewind them into a single rope, so he may rewind time itself. The first thread is said to lay in a cave at the edge of the desert. What Jack does not know is that this cave is now a gladiatorial arena for the amusement of a Spider Lord. Left with no other choice, Jack is sent into battle with other gladiators in order to gain his freedom from the arena.
As opposed to fighting these warriors one at a time, Jack decides to take all of his opponents on at once, easily mowing through them with his mystic samurai blade and his great skill. When only Jack and the Spider Lord remain standing, the Spider concedes and allows Jack to leave his cave peacefully, taking the prize he seeks, ending the issue.
From the get-go, this issue just OOZES nostalgic goodness, like an over-filled Twinkie. Between the dead-on accurate artwork, to the quick wit and well written dialogue, every inch of this book just SCREAMS Samurai Jack. Light bits of humor are sprinkled throughout the book, matching up well with the comedy style of the original show. The fight scenes are well drawn and the battle with the robotic knight in PARTICULAR sparked a significant amount of nostalgia.
If I have any issue with this book, it would be that it comes off as TOO short. Because Jack is not a regularly introspective character, there is not nearly as much narration or thought text as there is in most comics. Also, much like Samurai Jack, there is very little actual speaking, unless it is absolutely necessary.
While I like this book, and I am very much looking forward to seeing where this storyline goes, I can’t help but feel that Samurai Jack was not the best type of show to adapt to a comic book format. But after nearly a decade and never having received a resolution to this series, I can’t say I can complain much. I only hope, that like the MLP Micro Series, Samurai Jack gains enough popularity to become it’s own on-going title.
-A fast paced story that resembles a classic Samurai Jack story quite easily
-Great artwork that resembles the shows original art style but, like the MLP comics, does not try to completely copy its on-screen counterpart
-Simplistically sets up the status quo of this mini series
-It is very short, and does not feel like a full episode of Samurai jack, but only the first five minutes
-A very strange transition from cartoon to comic, and the comic format may not be the best for this Samurai