After a two-parter focusing on gender-bending Jack and the Samurai Jack stalwart the Scotsman, Jim Zub and Andy Suriano got back together to tell a really amazing silent issue. I haven’t really read silent issues before, and I think this one was my first, and I was blown away. A lot of the legwork was done by Andy Suriano and Josh Burcham, but the story was still Jim’s and he knocked it out of the park quite handsomely. And what I loved was that the threat of Aku being everywhere and doing his best to throw Jack off his scent was ever-present in this issue in a great way.
This week’s Samurai Jack #9 isn’t a silent issue per se, but it comes quite close indeed and I have to say that it is a pretty daring piece of storytelling daring, to have two silent issues back to back like this. Letterer Shawn Lee gets to do some good work this time and he doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. But really, at its heart, this is a true Samurai Jack story and it is also refreshing to see another guest artist here, Ethen Beavers as penciller, so we get to see yet another fresh take on the whole Samurai Jack craze.
Despite the fact that this issue is largely textless outside of some background sound and very, very brief pieces of dialogue, the story still proves to be as engaging as that of any of the previous issues. This time Jack goes up against an enemy that can control gravity and seeing how Jack triumphs over this particular beast is sure to get your blood pumping. Ever since he started on this series Jim Zub has been going all-out with his scripts and this issue is no exception to that. The way we meet Jack in this issue, the way the monster is introduced, and then the big fight itself, and the final resolution with the brief shot of Aku, it is all classic Samurai Jack really.
In an issue without inner dialogue, or even narration, it can often be tough to get into a character’s head, to relate with him or her. If you are looking to break into Samurai Jack comics, this is certainly not the issue I’d recommend you start at anyway. So if you are coming into this one, it is best to have a good idea of who and what Samurai Jack and Samurai Jack are, because Jim Zub’s script flies by pretty damn fast and if you are focusing on character development or anything, you will be disappointed. This is an issue for the existing fans and those who know about the IP, rather than someone new.
Still, what matters the most is whether the issue has a good story or not, and on that front, I’m happy to report that this is indeed a really good story. Jim Zub’s creativity with the concepts of the different enemies that Jack has fought against in this series has always impressed me, and once again, this issue is no exception to that. A samurai fighting against a mechanical monstrosity that can control gravity and emerges out from the bowels of the earth, dragging the hero down with it? That has win written all over it.
And all in all, the final ending is just too good. Aku is one of my favourite villains from the 90s and 2000s animated series I used to watch as a kid, and seeing him cameo every now and then really gets me excited, even when it is a distant cameo and Aku is physically not present in a story.
The real star of this issue is definitely colourist Josh Burcham though. His colours make everything look really good, and he uses some really good colour contrasts in the main story. And there’s also a nice gradal effect in the colouring in each page, which only enhances the overall experience. Ethen Beavers is a new artist on the series, and he does some fine work in this, his first issue. Not as clear-cut and definitely as the artwork by Brittney Williams or Andy Suriano but close enough nonetheless. In a few panels, he draws Jack a bit bigger than the perspective suggests, and that felt odd to me, but other than that he was quite consistent with the work done by previous artists.
A fairly good installment in the franchise, this one!