Cowboy Bebop: Supernova Swing Review

Last November, Netflix released its live-action version of the popular anime cowboy bebop. Despite its mixed reaction, especially from anime fans who were going to dislike it anyway, the live-action show was more fun than people believe, even though it never achieves the multi-layered brilliance of its source material. However, Netflix canceled the show after just one season. Titan Books has published several books based on the series since then, including a four-issue comic book miniseries, which we’re here to discuss.

Written by Dan Watters with illustrations by Lamar Mathurin, supernova seesaw opens like any episode of cowboy bebop: The Bebop spaceship crew members – Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine and Jet Black – have their eyes set on a bounty. During their hunt for scientist Melville, the crew discovers that he possesses a vest that grants unlimited luck to its wearer, which attracts the attention of the Syndicate.

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Given the bad timing of this trade’s release, given its position as a tie-in to a short-lived show from nearly a year ago, you can read this as a standalone account separate from the Netflix show. It’s interesting how the creators approach this story – despite its ties to the live show (there’s no Ed at this point), they lean more into some of the sensibilities of the original anime. Although you don’t have Yoko Kanno’s signature music playing in the background, the comic retains that retro aesthetic that resembles film noir and ’70s crime shows, wrapped in a futuristic setting.

The fight most have dabbled in the world of bebop tries to capture that multi-layered tone, which can go from elegantly cool to comically quirky to deeply melancholic in the blink of an eye. This is something that Dan Watters completely nails. The best things about bebop for me, it’s the conversations steeped in science and philosophy, and what they say about the main characters, that deliberately lead to a not-so-triumphant outcome. The tone is absolutely perfect in this book.

Known for his web comics OkraLamar Mathurin’s art is not the most obvious choice for the world of bebop. Despite maintaining the character and ship iconography (including Spike’s Swordfish), Mathurin’s loose style took some getting used to, especially when it came to the faces as the characters don’t look like John Cho, Mustafa Shakir and Daniella Pineda. That said, with coloring from Roman Titov and Emilio Lecce, the art can go from whimsical to energetic where the action just snaps, especially when it showcases Spike’s skills in Jeet Kune Do.

Despite its connection to the Netflix adaptation, supernova seesaw has its own aesthetic that works on its own merits, while still capturing the feeling of the original cowboy bebop.

Review of “Cowboy Bebop: Supernova Swing”

Cowboy Bebop: Supernova Swing

Despite its connection to the Netflix adaptation, Supernova Swing has its own aesthetic that works on its own merits, while capturing the feel of the original Cowboy Bebop.

Watters exemplifies the laid back nature of Spike, Jet and Faye

A funny, deep and melancholic story, like the best episodes of Bebop

Fun and kinetic art by Lamar Mathurin…

…although some might be put off by its loose designs which certainly give a different aesthetic to what you would expect out of this world

Although you can read it as a single piece, a little knowledge of Bebop might make it easier to understand.

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