IDW’s Samurai Jack has been a great continuation of an animated series that I feel had an entirely too short a life. I’ve said many times before that the animated series was one of the best programmings that did Cartoon Network did in the early 2000s, easily borne out by the fact that the show went on to win quite a few awards. Jim Zub and Andy Suriano’s run, along with the occasional guest artists, have continued in that same award-winning tradition, making Samurai Jack one of the best comics on shelves right now, which really is all that anyone could have asked for when the series debuted last year.
Recently, Jack’s war against Aku has taken a dramatic turn. His sword lies broken and useless, and with its loss has come a time of ascendancy for Aku since the Jack is divested of his greatest ally and instrument. It was a heartbreaking moment indeed and in last month’s issue we got to see some of the consequences of this. Samurai Jack #13 is more of the same but it also moves the story forward in a great way, and I really liked what Jim did here. Andy Suriano is back on pencilling duties for this arc, with additional art by Ethan Beavers here, and this is another strong installment in a really strong series.
With the loss of his sword, a family heirloom no less, Jack has been forced to skulk through Aku’s territories and in other areas, since his strength is much reduced now. He is basically on the run, and it is not a great place for the character to be, especially not when Aku is out for his blood anyway, as we’ve seen so many times before. Samurai Jack #13 does things a bit differently however. It shows Jack disguising himself to procure some much needed supplies and even goes into some great detail about the sword’s history, particularly the forging of it.
If there’s one thing that Jim has done really well in this series, it is expanding on the mythology created by Genndy Tartakovsky for the show. He repeats that same magic here, and provides a grandiose but compelling history for the sword, showing that it is much more powerful than even Jack himself knows, and he’s had more time to explore its uniqueness than anyone else, even his father. That’s where the flashbacks come in too, showing how things were for Jack’s father when the hero was just a little kid and so on.
That’s not all however because when out and about on a supply run, Jack ran into a little trouble with a robotic mercenary who was able to identify him, and this sets up a great hunt-subplot for the characters since the mercenary is someone quite driven to hunt down Jack, for the promise of a dinner date with none other than Aku himself.
Jim’s run on the title has often had a very strong comedic tone to it, and that’s the case with this issue as well since we see so many great cheesy one-liners and downright hilarious dialogue in general. The robotic mercenary, called Robo-Merc no less, is more than guilty of most of these, but he is also a great (ancillary) character for that very purpose. And Aku, of course Aku, he is absolutely delightful in every scene he is in, as usually is.
The accidental discovery of Jack is something that I really liked since it was allowed to happen naturally rather than some actual coordinated effort to hunt him down. Made for a nice change of pace, all things considered.
Andy is the main artist here, with Ethan getting to do the flashbacks with Jack’s father, from when the sword was first forged and Aku first driven off by Jack’s father. Josh Burcham is on colours as usual and the letters are by Shawn Lee, also as usual. And that’s just what I like to see here. The small details such as Jack’s beard, or the different people that he meets, Aku’s expressions, Jack’s own body language, everything was perfect here, just as I’ve wanted it to be since I first saw Andy and Josh’s art in Samurai Jack #1 last year. These two are getting better by each issue, and this one isn’t an exception.
Things are really heating up in this new arc and next month’s installment should be most interesting.