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Samurai Jack Volume 4: The Warrior-King Paperback – September 1, 2015
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About the Author
Originally docked in Detroit, Michigan, Andy Suriano hooked up with a circus-type, comedy/magic show when he was 18. He traveled the world performing for the next 7 years, sometimes on crazy European TV Variety shows, other times in historic Vaudevillian theatres, occasionally in front of ten thousand people, royal families, that sort of thing. The group even did a couple Fox specials here in the states way back in ’95 called The Rudy Coby Show. Andy’s specialty: walking on his hands as a two foot tall Elvis.
An accomplished graphic artist and illustrator, Andy’s worked both in comics and animation—winning an Annie Award for his work on Samurai Jack. He has also designed on other Emmy Award winning shows like Fairly Oddparents, Star Wars: Clone Wars and a bunch of others. He has also had a few pilots in production at Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., BET and Disney respectively.
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if you liked the animated series, you'll probably like this, though the illustration on the cover was a bit too much
More seriously. A comic book true to the originally animated series. The last chapter is a nice shot at giving us closure for a series that was taken from us too soon. That being said, I'm truly curious to see how this book will work with the new upcoming series. Stay tuned, I guess.
-I initially though this would be a five-part story like The Threads of Time or The Quest for the Broken Blade, when it was actually five completely separate stories, which was fine itself, but it kind of defeated the purpose of me waiting for the anthology to be released so I could read it all at once. It seems like I could have just read them individually without having to worry about the anticipation of what would happen next.
-References. So many references. I can definitely appreciate the respect they gave the original series, especially since this was the last comic book, by referencing many previous episodes of the show in the first four chapters, and then referencing names of voice artists and comic book artists who worked on it in the final chapter. It was a nice homage and a good way of closing things off on a positive note, especially considering the amount respect they paid to the late Mako, who passed away a few years ago.
-As it turned out, the ending was very ambiguous, which was mildly disappointing. There was no final confrontation, but there was ton of buildup, leading to nothing. I guess since it wasn't written by Genndy, they wanted the fans to imagine their own ending if or until Genndy makes an official movie, which I can understand, but that still made it rather anti-climactic after all the build-up they gave to this final issue.
-I did appreciate the final notes, concept art, and original story outlines at the back of this comic book. That's another reason I'm glad I waited for the final anthology instead of buying the issues individually. Some of the bonus art in the back was better than any of the art in the actual comic book, and reading the final notes from all the artists who worked on it was lovely.
So, to conclude, I'm not thrilled with the ambiguity of the ending, but I think this anthology of the final five chapters of the comic book series was worth purchasing due to the sheer amount of respect that the artists gave to Genndy's series by referencing so many characters and artists from it, and it was a very nice note to end it on.
The ending issue was nice, although i don't think its official. This series will be a great lead up to the show that's coming back in 2016.
It's a unique undertaking to continue a saga started in animated form into printed form. On the one hand it may be easier considering thousands upon thousands of frames don't have to be produced. On the other hand you're greeted with restrictions that prevent you from showing as much as you would have wanted.
That's what I think may have happened here. The cult following of this classic Cartoon Network series didn't love the colorful characters, the engaging story and the beautiful animation style just because they were great, all these were enjoyed because on some levels these aspects reverberate within our hearts and minds. Some of us may have lost our home and/or family. Some may have been to the locales that the set pieces featured were inspired from. Some may have been wronged in some way and wish they could receive the justice that Jack wanted to achieve. Still more may have friends that resembled those that Jack encountered in his journey. But I think the aspect that we identify with the most is Jack himself.
Jack doesn't say much. That's normal for a character that was meant to mirror the character Clint Eastwood. The strong, silent type with a high sense of justice and the heart to motivate him to doing good. We aren't all reserved and quiet of course but by having Jack say as little as possible, it forces the writer to convey his emotions and thoughts by body language and facial expression. It helps us, the viewer and reader to identify with him on that level. To make us empathize with him. We want to see him get back home, in one way or another.
That may sound like too much to handle in a comic, but it has been done before. We've seen entire worlds of wonderfully imagined creatures grazing on bright pink fields, we've seen private investigators unravel plots of corruption and even legions of meta-humans wage war across entire galaxies. We've watched on as our favorite childhood characters mature into adults and grow as human beings. We've seen cyber-punk, lovecraftian horror, teen dramas, time travel, evil twins from other realities. Everything it seems.
The bar was set pretty high for these Samurai Jack volumes. But not necessarily by the franchise that came before, but by the television series from which it's based on. You can enjoy Andy Suriano's "messy" style on the well bound, satin pages. You may prefer Sergio Quijada's much cleaner style instead. You may like the two part story about a watch that can send the user through time or even the massive amounts of fan service for those that love the original series throughout the issues featured. There are characters galore. But nothing this volume has can ever make up for its biggest problem, sense of scale.
For years we've all wanted to see a proper conclusion to Jack's journey. After all the injustice and hardships he's been through, after all the betrayals and missed opportunities and especially after all the sacrifices he made just to help those in need at the cost of his own happy ending he's one of the few icons that deserves to be free from his hardships. He deserves to be with his family again. You don't need me to remind you of what he's been through. You can already see them all in your mind. See his sadness and his anguish from never being able to go back in time no matter how close he got to it. Can you really say that he was never meant to have a proper finale? Can anyone other than the creator make such a judgment call?
That's what drew me to this comic series. The prospect that I can see at least some form of resolution for him. Some version of an ending. Even if it's not official. And even better, the writers were using one of the episodes from the series as the foundation for the story of their comic. That would make this comic fit in to the continuity. Perfect right? But instead, they just threw in the results of the build up, but not the build up itself. We see Jack as a "king", but no kingdom. He wears a crown, but he has no "subjects" to rule over. His army consists of characters he has met in the series but a couple of them couldn't possibly be there if the episodes they came from are to be believed. It seems as though the writers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could get as much fan service into this final issue as possible they didn't stop to think if they should instead make the plot logical. Don't get me wrong, I loved seeing all these guys, but I would have much rather know how they got to that point. I wanted to see how Jack got that crown, how he tracked down and convinced all those characters to join his army. And of course, how the final confrontation with Aku played out because we don't even get to see that. The epic build up was there, but the small scale that this comic restricts itself to was a "massive" disappointment ironically.
For a comic that was supposed to have enough creative freedom to portray Jack's ending however they wanted, they sure played it way too safe. Way too safe for the uninitiated and definitely way too safe for the massive following Jack has accumulated in the years since the first episode. There's a reason why people bemoan time-skips and this comic simply reinforces those feelings. Had they used the final five issues to tell this story instead of just one, they might have had an engaging volume for people to buy. As it stands, this is the one volume I actually regret buying. I don't hate it, but I can never like it either.