Golgo 13 Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 182
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0251-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Golgo 13 Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 16, 2006
Release Date: February 21, 2006

Golgo 13 Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saitou Takawo
Translated by:Priscilla Yim
Adapted by:

What They Say

In 1991, UN inspectors found the incomplete Project Babylon - a cannon capable of hurling a shell 600 miles. In 1997, the Clinton administration learns of a second, hidden Iraqi supergun - now operational, and with a much, much longer range... There are only two options to destroy the supergun: send in an airstrike - or send in Golgo 13! Then flash back to 1979 on the streets of San Francisco, where a hit-and-run accident intersects with a mob boss's terror that he is G13's next target...

The Review
The presentation for Golgo is great. Starting with the cover, Viz's overall package is solid. On the cover is the man himself in a white suit on the ready with his trademark M16 in his right ready. Just like the Leed Publishing's version, Viz placed the logo to Golgo's right running vertically on a solid red background. The opposite cover features the Shogakukan logo in blue in English and Japanese (they even left in the skeleton as well). The printing is sharp, though a bit dark. Readers can clearly see Saitou's line work and all the detail he puts into his backgrounds.

This volume features two stories from the Shokakukan collection Golgo 13 Gaku: the Gun at Am Shara (05/1997) and Hit and Run (04/1979). Viz also provided a ton of background info on the main character compiled in a dossier called File 13. This dossier contains details on Golgo; a few of his aliases, his conditions to take a job and some of the habits that have helped Golgo survive as a hitman over the last four decades.

This volume is rated 18+ for sex and violence, so it is shrink-wrapped and has a parental warning on the front cover.

Saitou's art is right out of the era when it started. Back in the 70's, shonen characters had stoic faces with features that look as if best suited to be carved in stone. Huge brows, defined cheekbones and detailed noses surrounded by strong hair and jaw-lines. Saitou often uses characters from the real world and he caricatures them in the same style. Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and Madeline Albright are drawn with good detail yet retain Saitou’s style.

Saitou's background art has developed tremendously over the decades. If you look at how accurate San Francisco is in Hit and Run, it looks as if he there, lived in the Embarcadero district and frequented shops along Market Street on a regular basis. Then moving onto more current designs, Saitou is really able to capture the landscapes and architectural designs to keep his manga looking fresh and current. His layout is generally simple but I still got a cinematic feel from it. While the panel shapes and placement were not very complex, the perspective and pacing was excellent. He can slow things down to catch up with a speeding bullet or make a car chase seem really intense. Then he is able to give perspective of how impossible Golgo's missions are before the assassin has his target in his viewfinder.

As I noted above, this volume has detailed nudity and a few sex scenes, so the content might not be appropriate for minors.

Knowing Golgo 13 when I heard this title would be translated, I began to worry. There are issues with the context, there are issues with how proper nouns would be spelled and Viz seemed to be on top of everything. There is a lot of slang, a lot of colloquial dialogue and a lot of attitude. Two out of three is not bad, but I had a tough time with some of the choices made. Maybe, I am getting a little old or maybe it is because I have lived there, but I it does not settle well with me. Fortunately, there are no real major context issues that I can see; it is really the execution as the characters lose personality with a rather flat adaptation. I was impressed by the research done, so the notes on martial arts are well done and informative.

The SFX are translated with overlays. The overlays are similar in size to the original and have a very clean good-looking retouch. I am not a fan of overlays, but this does make bullet fired seem more impressive.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It is so easy to forget but 15 years ago the US lead by another Bush was also at war with Iraq. The purpose of the war was not stop terrorism, jump start democracy or find weapons of mass destruction. Yet as the brief, month long war progressed, even back then those ideas were used to beat the drums of war.

The US promised to rid the Iraqis of Saddam and free the Kurds; instead, Saddam remained and the US and UK patrolled no-fly zones they created over Kurdistan and Shi'a southern Iraq. The exiled Iraqi Congress never made an impact to "liberate" Baghdad from Saddam's Baathists and democracy, as we know it never took hold.

Through the UN, the world thought it was safe from Saddam's reign of terror. During the first Gulf War, Saddam threatened Kuwait and Israel. A defeated Iraq saw its army brought down dramatically. Trade embargoes and sanctions against the nation prevented them from creating much of a standing military especially with the constant surveillance of the west over two large portions of the country.

The irony about Saddam's weapon system was that parts of it came from the US as well as from former Eastern Bloc nations. He had long-range missiles that were packed with conventional explosives. The Iraqi missile system was capable of attacking their long-time enemies in the region - Iran and Israel. Saddam had a chemical weapons cache he had used in previous wars. He would then use those weapons against the increasingly autonomous Kurds in northern Iraq. Moreover, while the US pounded Saddam's military complex with precision bombs during Desert Storm, what held Saddam in check was the strength of the trade embargoes and sanctions.

Case in point, despite being under constant surveillance of the strongest military in the world Saddam built himself a super-weapon. Capable of not only threatening nations within the middle east, but this supergun made a long range artillery on attack the US very possible. Saddam somehow commissioned a weapon that need not take an army to American soil or air space cause tremendous damage and large casualties. This is a new form of WMD built right under the noses of the US and UN.

With the possibility of an Iraqi assault, US intelligence has to use a WMD of their own. And like Saddam, the Intel community has to do this without the knowledge of the US military. There is no room for error. Any chance that the military or Executive could interfere or betray in operations of this living WMD would end up bringing down the lynchpin of peace in the western world. Golgo 13 is on the mission and if given enough intel, enough sex and enough freedom he can be as deadly as many superguns! If one man could be stronger and more efficient than the whole US military industrial complex, Golgo 13 has to be it. So Bill Clinton and Saddam have to sit back watch the man who does not exist make history!

The Best of Golgo 13 kicks off with two amazing stories on how the "man that does not exist" can influence lives of millions or individuals with the mere mention of his name. These two stories written almost 20 years apart are able to maintain the sense of cool that Golgo is known for, while still incite curiosity and amusement. There is something about an assassin that is able to do that so well.

The two stories presented in this volume can be considered a time machine spanning 18 years of history (18 of the 37 years of G13). Saitou takes great efforts to cull from history and culture to make those concepts accessible in this action manga. Readers do not have to know the ficticious characters in Am Shara but they will remember how Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti and William Jefferson Clinton were supporting characters to Golgo's lead. In Hit and Run the streets of San Francisco with its drugs, gangs and violent (still often vigilante) police system brought readers to a place where they might not ever experience in person. Along the way we get the best in espionage. Scanal, sex and action are all done with a certain sense of cool (wait it is more like cold!).

While a little episodic, these self contained stories give readers a look at the best of the 130+ volumes of Golgo. Overall, the costumes, the sense of realism, the character designs and the historical influences on the writing create a feeling of the cool globetrotting assassin that is just as suave as James Bond and even more deadly.


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