Golgo 13 Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 186
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0382-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Golgo 13 Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 17, 2006
Release Date: April 18, 2006

Golgo 13 Vol.#02
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
1989: Tiananmen Square. In a matter of hours, the People's Liberation Army will massacre the students of the Chinese democracy movement. But one person will die first, as Golgo 13 walks through the chanting crowds. Who is he here to kill--and why? Then, in 1974, the snakes of the Corsican mafia writhe from Mexico to Marseilles as G13 takes a trip into a psychedelic triple-cross where the corpse on the floor won't be just an acid casualty!

The Review
After a good start, volume two takes a drop in overall quality. Starting with the cover, Viz's overall package is just a little off. On the cover, Viz presents a profile image of the man himself beneath a huge hand! First, the character art is not very flattering and the hand is not at all relevant to either story in this volume. Fortunately, they maintained the same logo as Leed Publishing's. Viz placed the logo to Golgo's left, running vertically on a purple background. The opposite cover features the Shogakukan logo in gold in English and Japanese (they even left in the skeleton as well).

Open up the book and here is where most of my issues are found. The printing is horrible. It is difficult to make this manga look bad, because the art doesn't feature much tone use. However, the print is dirty, there are moments where lines are blurry and in general, the print runs a bit dark.

This volume features two stories from the Shogakukan collection Golgo 13 Gaku: the Deaths of June 3rd (10/1990) and Hydra (10/1974). Once again, Viz provided a ton of background info on the main character compiled in a dossier called File 13. This dossier contains details on Golgo: info on his sense of style, his taste in women, his health issues and his prison record. More info than most readers needs to know about this hit man.

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.

The background art has developed tremendously over the decades. The images of Tiananmen Square were a little in regards to emotion but were very detailed. At the same time, I was really able to see how large a space it is and how many people were there for the event. I think the art was able to capture the right attitude for the port of Marseilles, on the other hand. The 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 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 some nudity, prostitution 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 the historical context 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)
In the first story Death's of June 3rd, readers are treated to a story that was not told at the Tiananmen Square back in 1989. While the world was focusing on the uprising lead by student and union organizations from across China, very few people were aware that those voices were not entirely united in their message. These were people who where out there en masse for what they believed was the greater good but no one could agree what was the proper or "true" good. No one could agree how to give the message and no one could agree to whom the message should go out to.
One of the groups present was the Government of Tibet in Exile, who through intelligence gathered information on the event weeks in advance and considered this an opportunity to show the global community their suffering. Conversely, there was another group from Tibet, actual citizens from the "Tibet Autonomous Region", who wanted to send the same message directly to everyone present especially the government of Deng Xiaoping. One group with the voice of peace supported by the teachings of the Dalai Lama and one demanding change at all costs. Standing next to the Goddess of Democracy, there they were planning for the moment when they would be able to come out in the open with their words or their actions.  
G13 was sent to Beijing not to change the tide for any side. His politics are not relevant, even in his business. He does not care if the Chinese government is going to begin to massacre the protestors. He does not care about the double-edged struggle of the working man. He is there solely for work and has been paid to keep the message of the Dalai Lama intact for when the time is right for Tibet to once again be ruled by its people. q
In the title story Hydra G13 heads to Mexico to meet with a special woman. Working the night, his contact had to keep her cover on the streets of Tijuana without getting G13 caught in the crossfire. Unfortunately, with a case this big there was no way Golgo would be able to get the details of this job without using his skills before payment. The reason is that he has been hired by the DEA!
Intelligence has mapped this huge heroin trafficking network coming out of Corsica in the Mediterranean. Old Italian Mafia connections are working with the French Corsicans to refine Turkish heroin before distributing it to old French colonies where locals help smuggle the product into even larger markets. Heroin was sent to each continent. After creating a hold on Europe, it is now heavily influencing the American drug trade as well. However, what the DEA has found is that the heroin that is now making its way across the world has been engineered for higher better returns financially.
G13 is here to stop this new drug at its source. He is going to the French Riviera for one reason: kill Doctor Z and in turn stop this drug from taking hold!

I have been a fan of G13 for years now. In some ways it was one of my resources for history and culture when I was a tween (yeah, dad didn't care if it was for adults). Every new story felt like I was watching a foreign film. I got a good taste of the culture, the scenery and most importantly the attitude. Reading Golgo 13 once again, I realize that I was not taking in another important element to this series - the historical context.

I think I mentioned in the previous review, that most of G13's stories are placed in the context of moments in history. Volume 1 took readers to Iraq in the nineties under sanctions and a no fly-zone. In volume two, we go to Beijing during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He then takes us to the early 70's when the US government began its War on Drugs. Each story goes about presenting the past differently, through varying levels of historical accuracy.

The second story in this volume Hydra is an entirely original concept connecting the known heroin trail and the then recently formed DEA. This story is based on ideas that were relevant to the time. References were made to historical figures and political/criminal action of the time but only in dialogue. All of the players are original. Their personalities and the scenes are original as well. However, like a great crime story, the combination of action, thriller and mystery come together in the proper context to create a complete package.

Deaths of June 3rd is set in actual historical fact. You can see Beijing and Tiananmen Square with hundreds of thousands of protestors in the streets. You see the signs and images from that uprising (there was a famous image of the Goddess of Democracy). The clothing and uniforms from that era helped completely create a full feel of the time. While the main characters were original ideas, the supporting cast of Wu'er Kaixi, Deng Xiaopeng and Zhao Ziyang are very real. The violence really took place and the clash between protestors themselves was a well-known problem within the movement. While I am not sure if Saito's idea of a Tibet connection occurred back then, he was able to present the difficulty groups had within their own in deciding how best to send their message to the world. Therefore, the message of this story is clear but adding some more realism gave it more affect (especially since this was drawn only a year after the event).

The mix of fact and fiction alone made this a challenging read. However, the attitude of G13 the man is what does it for me. This is a man who can change history but he is also a man of purpose. He is going to do his thing by his rules and he never compromises on that. Pay him to maintain the status quo or to protect the ideals of an ancient culture it doesn't matter to him, but it sure does to readers. Ultimately, Golgo 13 is the near the top in sophisticated manga - challenging, exciting, titillating and always too cool.


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