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‘Samurai Jack: Tales of Wandering Warrior’ – Trade Paperback Review

I am called Jack.

There’s no more seminal series from my childhood than Samurai Jack.  It was on at a time when I was learning what animation could really be, and this show defined it for me.  Genndy Tartakovsky created many shows with iconic status for Cartoon Network, but Jack’s tale is one that stands above all others.  With an incredibly rich aesthetic, there is a trust in allowing the visuals to tell a story with dialogue only interrupting the atmosphere when someone absolutely needed to speak.  In fact, in some episodes there was no dialogue recorded by Phil Lamar as Jack and the irreplaceable Mako as the demon Aku.  I can’t describe how perfect a show it was; all I can say is that it’s on Netflix, so go and be prepared to be blown away if you’ve not yet experienced it.

All of this is to help you understand how important this show and its universe are to me, so that you can believe me when I say that Jim Zub, along with artists Andy Suriano, Brittany Williams, Ethen Beavers, Andy Kuhn, Sergio Quijada, and Christine Larsen, were able to find the magic and beauty within the world and bring it to exquisite life.  If there was not going to be another season coming, then I would say that this twenty-issue run would be a fitting cap to the legend of Jack.  As it stands, it’s a series that fits wonderfully into the world, easily splitting the nostalgia with new stories, recalling some of the greatest characters that Jack had encountered through the four seasons of the show and the initial movie.  Zub nails the tone, speed, and varying styles that the story requires to be as tonally perfect as it had been all those years ago.  Zub is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers, because he writes so much in the styles and franchises that I love and does so with stories that make sense and surprise all at the same time.  I would trust him with any story that needed to be told.

So much of the wonder and brilliance of the TV series was the visual style that was such an integral part of the storytelling, often becoming a character unto itself, with hyper urban locales fading into the depths of wilderness and distant lands as Jack traveled the future searching for his way home.  Each artist who contributed to this run found their way to put a stamp on the original, and with the Tartakovsky prints scattered throughout, you can really appreciate his style being interpreted by these other talented artists.  Every one of them gets it and executes the compelling visuals as well as the show ever did.  It’s an incredible and faithful examination of the heart of the series.

The final issue of the run, the last one in this collection, is pure perfection.  Mirroring so many moments in the show where Jack’s future was revealed to us, implying a long and difficult journey that we could look forward to, we’re brought to Jack late in the issue as a scribe searches for the truth behind the man who is a myth.  So many characters from the TV series make appearances, and while we never see Jack’s other half, Aku’s presence is felt throughout and Zub gives a great gesture in naming the scribe Mako.

If you’re a fan as I am and eager for the new season to debut, do yourself a solid and pick up this giant edition from IDW.  It’s a single tome that you’ll enjoy for years and will fit perfectly in to your trips back to this world alongside the original series itself.

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Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor



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