Those who saw my Free Comic Book Day haul may have observed that I bought Samurai Jack: Classics Volume 1. However, I also have issues #1-20 of Samurai Jack, the comic series. So I figured I’d reread those before getting to the trade paperback. And yes, I did check before I bought it and saw images that I had no memory of whatosever.
It took me a while to find the time to go through twenty issues of comics because I don’t care to bring serializations to work. Also because I’d rather go through it all in one fell swoop, instead of reading a few every night and something completely different during the day. It’s less going on.
Now, in the twenty issue run are a few major storylines that encompass two or more issues. These include “The Threads of Time,” “The Scotsman’s Curse,” and “The Quest of the Broken Blade” among others. Back when I first read the Samurai Jack comics, the new television season was a hope and a promise growing stronger, and finishing these gave me some thoughts as to where they might take the final season.
Given what I’ve seen on tv thus far, I suspect that the comics are not completely canon with the cartoon. There are elements that were introduced in the comics that have been shown and adapted and changed in the tv series. However, the season isn’t concluded yet, so it will be very interesting to see how the entire thing ends, something which was intentionally left out of the comics. One thing both do well is, of course, bringing back classic characters from the original four seasons as cameos and quick shots.
Having finished the reread, I moved onto the Classics. Unfortunately, almost half of the book is Samurai Jack #1, a longer than normal issue retelling the origin of Jack. It’s essentially the first two episodes of the series, which was originally shown as a mini made-for-tv-movie and even got a DVD release as such. I guess it makes sense, since not everyone is even aware of the older comic series, but that doesn’t make it less annoying for me.
Thankfully the rest of the book is brand-new to me. It’s a bunch of shorts, some as brief as four pages total, of various adventures Jack’s had. Some are sillier than others. There is a goat doing stand-up. Not one of them has appeared in the earlier comic series nor in the tv series, which is great. That is one of the greatest advantages Samurai Jack has enjoyed: the fact that while there is a story, the episodes are mostly independent one-shots and can be watched in almost any order. The same then applies to these shorts.
And yes, I have been watching season five, so I am fully aware that this final season is a continuous story in contrast to the four preceeding seasons. I am enjoying it, but it doesn’t change the fact that the episodic nature of the earlier episodes is a strength for the casual viewer. The one-shots of the comics capture the feel of those episodes and keep the Samurai Jack universe unified.