"Parasyte Vol. 1" (Mania.com)

By:Karl Schneider
Review Date: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Parasyte, from Del Rey Manga, combines elements of two of Hollywood’s most famous Sci-Fi films, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “The Thing” (Think the John Carpenter version).  Alien spores fall to earth and hatch worm-like parasites that enter the openings of the body, i.e., nose, ears, and eat the brain of their host and takeover their bodies. As in Carpenter’s version of The Thing, once they have taken over the body they can change their shape into some very bizarre and deadly forms.  Unfortunately, once they’ve taken over a body, they can only sustain themselves by eating other humans.  Of course, this rule is in place for whatever type of body they infected.  Some have erred and taken the bodies of dogs and other animals and once inside, they cannot leave. 

Shinichi is an ordinary high school student living in Japan and he, too, has been infected by one of the parasites that bored its way into his hand.  But before the creature could reach his brain, Shin tied off his arm with a tourniquet, trapping the worm.  We’ll soon learn that because the parasite has now matured, it can no longer enter Shin’s brain.  That’s the good news…the bad news is that Shin’s right hand now has a mind of its own…not to mention eyes and a mouth.  Shin’s right arm is now fully malleable as well as intelligent. It reveals that it came to Earth to prey on humans but it has failed in its mission.   

Shin and the parasite now share a bond, dependent upon one another as the parasite cannot live without Shin, but it can also kill Shin if it chooses.  This strange bonding is at once terrifying and yet also quite humorous as the parasite has a curiosity about the world, wanting to learn more and more, even reading books on its own as Shin sleeps.  When the parasite needs rest, Shin’s hand and arm again turn to normal.  But there is also danger facing the pair.  The parasites can sense each other’s presence when they are near and soon Shin and his alien partner have to fight other parasites that consider Shin a reject.  The parasite, which Shin nicknames Migi, now has to protect its host from others of its race who try to kill him. 

Parasyte is written and drawn by Hitoshi Iwaaki and is a fantastic first volume to a new series. Iwaaki shines when he lets his imagination run wild with the incredible and deadly transformations of the parasite-infected bodies.  The bodies literally become weapons, sprouting deadly, razor sharp tentacles, often from the face of their hosts that literally split apart. Quite terrifying and graphic!  This is one you definitely need to check out!

Mania Grade: A
Story and Art: Hitoshi Iwaaki
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Pages: 282
Price: $12.95