Review: Samurai Jack #5 – The Final Thread
In the final chapter of Samurai Jack’s first arc the “Threads of Time”, we find Jack doing some undercover work in the heart of Aku’s fortress while attempting to obtain the final thread of time. Crafty as always, Jack sneaks in with a new group of forced laborers. As Jack and the laborers make their way into and through the hellish corridors of the fortress, they are subjected to various videos and audio broadcasts of Aku basically just re-iterating the fact that he is a horrible creature and has absolutely no regard for their lives nor for any sort of their general well-being.
While the taunts of Aku are typical villain fare, they serve to illustrate a much larger point of the overall story. Aku is a creature that has such an enormous amount of power that he is able to dictate the lives of so many at a mere whim; he has control of the entirety of society to the point that he does not even feel obligated to pretend to care due to the fact that he knows his reign will never be contested; he is the very definition unbridled evil power. Which is precisely why he is the perfect nemesis for a hero such as Jack. Zub is able to convey all of this to the reader without having to spell it out and yet it still manages to leave a lasting impression; a trait that is essential to any great story. While the fact that Aku is evil is nothing new, refreshing the reader’s distaste for him is always beneficial to the plot.
Since the villainy of Aku is so well represented, the heroism of Jack is able to shine by default by simply having Jack behave in the manner to which fans have become accustomed. Even against the insurmountable odds, Jack is able to portray the hero that every story involving samurai needs.
And of course, this issue also sees its fair share of action and katana-slashing as Jack once again faces off against Aku. The battle was presented in a manner that made it entertaining enough, but unfortunately a tad too familiar. However, while it wasn’t anything new, it was still executed rather well and featured good use of dramatic tension and frantic visuals that worked quite well to convey the showdown between these two nemeses.
The issue ended strong and contained a surprisingly good moral. It’s difficult to give any specifics without spoiling too much of the story, but it featured a very well expressed moment that really showcased who Jack is as a character and helped to re-affirm just how much of a bad-a** he really is.
In regard to the art, I would say that it is basically perfect. Suriano’s images help to emphasize the written words and add an extra layer to the story as a whole; The sheer size and magnitude of Aku’s fortress is conveyed in a manner that almost makes it feel akin to the great fortresses of Middle-Earth and helps convey the evil that our hero is up against; the laborers are all near-faceless masses and help to emphasize Jack not only visually but also metaphorically by being on the exact opposite end of the spectrum of all of the traits that he embodies; the zaniness that is conveyed visually by Aku on several occasions is in such stark contrast to the true nature of him that it helps to add a certain level of eeriness. Combine all of that with Josh Burcham’s awesome work on colors, and you’ve got a very aesthetically pleasing comic book that flawlessly reproduces the visuals of the original cartoon.
The only real complaint that I have against this issue is that it tried to cram in just a little too much content. This is the conclusion of the first major story arc of the series, the end of a quest, the icing on the cake; it’s a pretty big deal and a lot was on the line. While it was still a very good story and a good comic book overall, it felt rushed to the point that it almost had the quality of a highlight reel for a very important sporting event or the Previously On… section of a television show. However, this is only a problem because as a reader and a fan, this universe and these characters have grown on me and I simply want to take the time to enjoy them to their maximum potential.