Samurai Jack: The Threads of Time: A good comic for children

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSamurai Jack and the Threads of Time by Jim ZubSamurai Jack: The Threads of Time by Jim Zub

Samurai Jack: The Threads of Time is a fun comic book for kids. It is an episodic battle adventure with better-than-average art and excellent coloring. Samurai Jack was created by Grenndy Tartakovsky, so apparently The Threads of Time isn’t the first Samurai Jack story. However, he’s a new character to me. Author Jim Zub writes a good story for his primary audience of kids, but Andy Suriano’s artwork is appealing to any reader. It’s the part of the book I enjoyed the most.

From what I can tell, the background story of Samurai Jack is that he’s stuck in the future and wants to get back to his own time period. He has an arch-nemesis named Aku who, I think, has caused him problems in both the past and the future, which is the present of the story. In this comic book, we follow Jack on a series of adventures that will lead to his final confrontation with this Demon Wizard Aku.

The story opens with Jack seeking out Soule the Seer so that he can learn how to return to his past. Jack is informed that he will need magic from the Rope of Eons. He is then told the story of this Rope: It was created by the Gods, and then stolen from them by Aku. After mastering the magical secrets of the Rope, Aku shredded it, leaving behind only fibers, or threads. Jack must gather together these “Threads of Time” so they form the original Rope of Eons. Only with this restored Rope of Eons will Jack be able to access their magic over time. Since this book is a trade collection of individual comics, it is organized based on Jack’s finding and recovering a thread in each issue. In the final issue, he confronts Aku.

Samurai jackI enjoyed this background story, but the issue in which he recovered the first thread was fairly boring, and I wasn’t looking forward to reading the next issues. However, the second thread recovered was a funny story about “Dis and Dat,” twin master martial artists who rule through fear. As Jack observes, “These people are terrified of you.” In a cutting bit of political satire, the author has Dis and Dat respond: “Yes. They should be. We can’t keep them safe unless they’re afraid. Fear and Taxes keep everyone safe.” Then Jack has his samurai battle with them as “Dis and Dat” show him “what’s what.” It’s my favorite episode in the book.

There are a few other stories that are just silly, and there are a few that I find either intellectually or emotionally moving, so my enjoyment of and respect for the writing increased by the end of the book. The ending itself makes it possible for future volumes, and I didn’t find the final confrontation between Jack and Aku very moving compared to some of his other battles for individual threads. I did like that Jack did not always easily win his battles, including this final one, which leaves him with a difficult choice to make. Basically, as an adult, I didn’t mind reading it, but I would not seek it out. However, I think it’s a very good book for young kids, boys in particular. And the art is good enough to make even the repetitious fighting scenes visually interesting to look at. Basically, if you want an alternative to the usual DC and Marvel superhero comics, Samurai Jack: The Threads of Time is a good choice for the child in your life.

Publication Date: July 2, 2014. The legendary samurai known only as “Jack” is stranded in a strange future ruled by the demonic wizard, Aku. His quest to return back to the past has tested him many times, but now the stakes are higher than ever. Can an ancient relic known as the Rope of Eons finally take him home? Collects issues #1–5.

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BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

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