Rating: 4/5 – A Manga Classic Gets the Hardcover Treatment
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
First published in 1986, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a multi-generational epic that offers fans of the supernatural, shonen fighting, or old-school (perhaps old-ish school…was 1986 really so long ago?) manga stylings something to enjoy. It’s been collected several times before, but perhaps never in a book this nice looking: a beautiful hardcover collecting part one of the Phantom Blood arc. Whether you’re a longtime fan looking for a pristine version of the series, or someone completely new to it, this is a good way to re-acquaint or introduce yourself to the strange world of the Joestars.
What’s it all about? Well, that would be telling, and the epic of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is really something best experienced firsthand. The story – at least as far as this first volume is concerned – tells the story of Jonathan Joestar and his adopted brother Dio Brando, an antagonistic relationship that pushes the boundaries of sibling rivalry to absurd levels. For now, the action takes place in 1880s London, but the overall tale doesn’t stay there. Invest yourself in the entire series and be prepared to move more than a hundred years forward, then back again, in a multi-generational story from the mind of Hirohiko Araki.
You’ll have fun along the way, though, if you pay attention. Araki apparently likes his music, as the characters Robert E.O. Speedwagon, Dire, Straizo, Wang Chen…are you getting the idea?…can attest. Pay attention as you read. These names aren’t mere coincidences. As the story continues to be published even today, references to Foo Fighters, Metallica, and Lady Gaga appear throughout its pages. So don’t dismiss it immediately as just another fighting manga. Sure, that’s an element of it, but there’s a lot of fun stuff going on behind the scenes that you’ll miss if you’re not paying attention. Here’s a freebie: Dio Brando is a blend of Ronnie James Dio and Marlon Brando. Could you ask for a better combo to portray the villain?
Araki’s artistic style may come off a bit jarring for the new manga reader if they haven’t exposed themselves to much beyond what’s come out in the past few years. There’s a definitive style that many manga-ka adhered to back in the 80s and these chapters are certainly indicative of that style. Bodies are hyper-exaggerated and movements are near impossible. It’s old-school manga like mother used to bake, and if you’re a fan of that you’re going to love this book (assuming you haven’t already read it).
Viz has given a longstanding and long-loved series a bit of spit-polish and shine in this beautiful hardcover volume, including some fun illustrations of Jonathan and Dio for the front and back covers. “It’s hard drawing characters from Part 1 after all this time,” Araki writes in an afterword, “but it’s like meeting up with old friends.” For longtime JoJo readers, this may be a good opportunity to rekindle their relationship with these old friends as well, while many new readers may build a new friendship by picking up this book for the first time.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture