Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: Part 1 - Phantom Blood Volume 3


MANGAKA: Hirohiko Araki
TRANSLATION: Evan Galloway
LETTERS: Mark McMurray
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7881-1; hardcover (August 2015); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
348pp, B&W with some color, $19.99 U.S., $22.99 CAN, £12.99 U.K.

VIZ Media's presentation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, the Phantom Blood arc, comes to an end with the third volume.  The legendary Shonen Jump manga series, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, is available in English for the first time.  VIZ Media is publishing the manga as a series of deluxe edition graphic novels with color pages and new cover art.

Created by Hirohiko Araki, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a multi-generational tale that centers on the heroic Joestar family and their never-ending battle against evil.  JoJo's Bizarre Adventure begins with the “Phantom Blood” arc.  It is the story of two brothers; one who is ambitious, but is also cruel and evil, and the other who is dignified and strives to be a just man.

Dio Brando has used the evil “Stone Mask” to turn people into flesh-eating zombies and also to resurrect great warriors of the past as monstrous fighters.  As JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 – Phantom Blood, Vol. 3 (Chapters 28 to 44) opens,  Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar takes on two of those reanimated fighters, Tarkus and the Dark Knight Blueford.  JoJo will transform one of them, but the other will prove to be a determined killer who will take the life of one of Jojo's friends.

Then, JoJo and his companions travel to the village of one of their company, the boy named Poco.  Dio is in the village, making it his base of operations, where he has already transformed dozens of villagers into hungry zombies.  Is Poco's sisters one of those creatures?  This is the final battle between JoJo and Dio, but that battle will span continents.

I was vaguely familiar with the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, which was first published in 1986 in Weekly Shonen Jump.  Now, I know why.  This manga cannot help but have a reputation.  The story's contents are the kind that turn into word-of-mouth praise.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 – Phantom Blood, Volume 3 is the final collection of the Phantom Blood story arc.  For the most part, probably 300 pages of the narrative depict fight scenes.  Creator Hirohiko Araki composes the fights with big, meaty compositions that portray the human body as a stand of pulsating and twisting muscle.  His drawing style looks like the art of American comic book legends, Jack Kirby and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and mangaka Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro squeezed into a Frankenstein anatomy for sculptors.

This finale earns the word “blood” and is shocking in so many ways.  For me, the most shocking is the scene where a woman devours her infant. Yeah...  JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is for the adventurous manga reader, and I have to admit that I am ready for more.  Fans of weird shonen manga will want to try the Shonen Jump Advanced series, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 – Phantom Blood.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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