Son of Samson #4: The Raiders of Joppa

Son of Samson #4: The Raiders of Joppa (2008)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Adventure / Comedy / Biblical ]

Writer - Gary Martin
Artist - Sergio Cariello

Publisher summary: While Branan's uncle Mathias is recounting the story of Samson slaying thirty Philistines, Philistine soldiers break into Mathias' house and take both of them captive. Branan is brought before Commander Sidon, who orders his execution and holds Mathias prisoner. On the way to his execution, Branan escapes his captors and returns with a band of marauders determined to loot Sidon's palace and to free Mathias.

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 17 August 2008

While Son of Samson doesn’t push any boundaries or explore deep thoughts, I often find I don’t have too many negative things to say about it. It tries to be a straightforward children’s tale with a mix of action and morality and it succeeds.

This volume has another self-contained story arc that really has a decent variety and balance of elements. We do see the return of Tiras, which is good, but this is probably his last appearance. I’m glad he wasn’t left with just the prison scene, but I had hoped he would lead to a more complex story (to the effect of this volume, but longer). There is also a decently done dream sequence that explores Branen’s psychology… the shadow of his father’s death continues to loom from the horizon.

Branen also confronts Sidon directly in this volume, though they don’t fight one another. Given that they are set up as the primary conflict of the overall story, this was a necessary step. Sidon also comes into his own here, showing that his character is a decent mix of skill and then kind of underhanded tricks you’d expect from this type of villain. He even skips the elaborate traps and goes for a swift execution… but not swift enough.

The humor continues to be extremely average – it is middle of the road in many ways. While adults might not enjoy it fully, it might help develop children’s senses of humor with a variety of styles. Strangely enough, there was a modern joke converted into 3000 BC.

There were a few pleasant surprises in this volume as well. Part of the dialogue references the Jubilee, which is a lot more than I was expected (without a footnote, even). It’s nice to see relatively unobtrusive references to the biblical basis for old stories, but unfortunate that there are similar references for previous volumes. Lastly, it will serve little purpose to continue repeating how this series doesn’t whitewash Samson, but it’s nice to see it treat yet another story realistically.

Unfortunately, the plot also raises a running question: is every single volume going to include Branen failing at something, making a confession, and then succeeding? My comments about that are already on record. This volume’s incident, however, seems to indicate that perhaps Branen’s strength is inherited spiritually as opposed to physically.

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