A review copy was provided courtesy of Jim Zub.
Samurai Jack was a cartoon series that I’m sure I’m not alone in saying had a major impact on me during my youth. From the amazing animation style, to the wildly creative stories, it was one of the best series created during the early 2000s. Sadly, like many great series, it ended far too soon.
Luckily, IDW brought Samurai Jack back in comic book form thanks to the creative team of Jim Zub and Andy Suriano. Though the comic did embody the feeling of the series and received accolades from a significant number of fans, it too sadly comes to an end with Issue #20. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the finale of the Samurai Jack comic series.
Samurai Jack #20 begins many years after the conclusion of both Issue #19 and the television series. Aku is still in power, but Jack himself has formed a resistance against the vile overlord. A lone scribe named Mako searches desperately for Jack, in hopes that the samurai can offer some words of wisdom and inspiration. The scribe eventually finds his quarry, and what he learns proves deeply meaningful.
Zub worked hard to ensure Samurai Jack #20 provides a meaningful and emotional ending for fans of the series, and in that department he does not disappoint. This ending makes numerous references to the original series, which will surely make longtime fans smile and remember some of their favorite stories. Furthermore, Zub ensures that Jack underwent character growth, with a pronouncement that shows his mission has grown and developed over the years. This final, meaningful message leaves the reader with important ideas to ponder: defeating Aku is the ultimate goal, but their is more contained within this resistance and what it means to all people.
Suriano’s artwork reflects the original series, and makes the comic feel as if it is stills from an animated episode. While some of line work feels a little too loose, overall Suriano successfully reflects the feel of Samurai Jack’s universe as he deftly depicts numerous characters and species encountered across the mythos. If you have a fan favorite character, it’s fairly likely he or she appears somewhere in this issue, which further cements how well Suriano portrayed the series feel in just twenty pages.
I smiled when I looked at some of Suriano’s work, especially the scene where Jack fought beetle robots which called back to the first few episodes, and the two page spread that showed Jack’s impact on all of his adherents and allies. Colorist Josh Burcham provides a great palette to back up Suriano’s pencils; I was happy to see Burcham’s choices also reflect the emotions portrayed in the original series. Letterer Shawn Lee also performs stellar work, especially in the intriguing scroll-like captions he uses for Mako the Scribe.
There are only two pitfalls in Samurai Jack #20. Firstly, this issue is chock full of references to the original series, which may cause certain scenes to not resonate with those not familiar with these previous stories. Secondly, while the ending does make sense, it is admittedly a cliffhanger and may disappoint fans who wanted a clean cut finale. Nevertheless, I feel that those reading this issue are likely already big fans of the series, and will be satisfied on both counts.
Samurai Jack #20 is the ending to the series I didn’t know I wanted, but am glad I received. It’s clear Zub, Suriano, Burcham, Lee, and editor Carlos Guzman love the Jack-mythos and devoted their all to providing an ending that will satisfy longtime fans. If you loved the Samurai Jack cartoon but didn’t read any issues of the comic, I still highly recommend picking this issue up; who knows, maybe if it sells well enough IDW will produce more Jack stories in the future.
This is an early review. Samurai Jack #20 arrives in stores on June 3, 2015.
-beautiful coda to both the animated and comic series
-artwork reminiscent of the original series
-numerous references and call backs to previous stories
-references may be lost on those who only read the comic series
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