It’s time for “Samurai Jack 2.0” with IDW Publishing and featuring the creative team of writer Paul Allor, artist Adam Bryce, and letterer Christa Miesner and Robbie Robbins. In this new miniseries based the iconic Cartoon Network Samurai Jack, created by Genndy Tartakovsky, Jack is back.
In the series, society has prospered under the leadership of the benevolent Samurai Jack and everything is in line with his philosophies, his storied stoicism, and of course his hair – yes, there are pages filled with everyone wearing the iconic topknot. That being said, this Samurai Jack isn’t the one we know which makes news of this society all new to Jack who doesn’t much care for this impostor using his name. But who is who and how can we tell?
As the story begins, it seems like it’s straightforward. A village of Jacks, dedicated to living by his stoicism, and led by Jack is all called into question when a disheveled Jack emerges from his cave. It’s clear that the man who shows up, hair loose and attitude anything but tempered, is the real Jack. Not the Jack we know, but the Jack of now.
The comic takes a deep turn when the two begin fighting and the opening panel begins to make sense, “…And what happens when someone is more you than you?” What seemed like a simple doppelgänger tale quickly morphs into a story about the essence of Samurai Jack, and a potent beginning look at what happens when heroes are confronted with the realization that they are slipping from the idyllic versions of themselves.
In Samurai Jack Lost Worlds #1, the miniseries sets up the theme and executes it well. In true Samurai Jack fashion its deeper than it seems. Narratively, the fact that the audience realizes it before Jack is a perfect choice. What do you do when your legacy is used to teach and mold people? What do you do when that isn’t you anymore?
This issue does more to set up the question than answer it. Since it is the start of a mini-series that is to be expected. With that, the comic aims to explore Jack’s identity through his realization this issue that the Jack the town is emulating is no longer who he is. The levels of story here are good enough to hook the reader in even if they aren’t waxing nostalgic on seeing their favorite Toonami samurai again.
The art in Samurai Jack Lost Worlds #1 is familiar, well done, and expected. It fits the cartoon’s animation perfectly and the use of motion blurring to add a dynamic element to the fight sequence works well. That being said, there is nothing beyond the story that makes the comic standout, which is just fine. Visually, the comic is all about the man we know and any large changes in the recognizable style would surely result in negativity among those with cases of nostalgia.
Overall, Samurai Jack Lost Worlds #1 is a must-read for any Samurai Jack fan but it may not be impactful for those who have not seen the television animation. The story hinges on a connection between the reader and the real Jack, so that when the realization hits, we feel the turn in the story. While I won’t say that this isn’t accessible for all readers, it will certainly land better and with more power for those familiar with or fans of the series.
Samurai Jack Lost Worlds #1 is available now.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.