Friday, 18 April 2014

Samurai Jack Volume 1 Review (Jim Zub, Andy Suriano)


I’ve never seen the TV show or read any Samurai Jack books so I don’t know much beyond the fact that the protagonist is a samurai called Jack - I guess you could say I don’t know “jack” about this title (thank you, thank you! I’ll accept the Obvious Pun Award!) - but this book wasn’t bad. 

Jack’s stranded in this weird future world by an evil wizard called Aku. To get back home Jack needs to collect the Threads of Time which, when brought together, will enable him to use chronomagic to return to where he wants to be. The setup reads a bit like a computer game which is to say its a simple, serviceable idea that gives you the bare bones of what you need to know and then throws you straight into the action. 

Which is fine as the overarching and straightforward storyline of getting the various threads leaves writer Jim Zub open to write all kinds of stories within that framework, and the stories are varied and decent. To name just a few: Jack fights a bunch of monsters in a gladiatorial pit, frees people kept down by a crazy witch, and puts to rest a troubled ghost of a lost civilisation. 

I wouldn’t say these are the most challenging stories and you do notice they become fairly formulaic as you go - Jack’s gonna fight and win then get the thread and move on by the end of each issue - but they’re totally fine for a simple adventure story and the writing is never offensively stupid.

I’ve seen a few pics from the TV show and Andy Suriano’s art matches the style so I’m sure fans will appreciate that. As a non-TV show fan, I liked the art - it’s got thick lines, Suriano’s characters are very expressive, and there’s real energy in the action scenes. The style is refreshingly down and dirty at times which makes a change from other mainstream comics that adopts a cleaner approach. 

The ending is a bit unsatisfactory but then it’s an ongoing storyline so it needed to be open-ended rather than definitive. So did this book make me a Samurai Jack fan? I’m not going to seek out episodes of the TV show but if and when Volume 2 comes out, I’ll definitely give it a shot. Zub and Suriano are a strong creative team and together they’ve produced a pretty decent Samurai Jack book. And if you're already a fan, you'll probably love this.

Samurai Jack Volume 1

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