Golgo 13 Vol. #12 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 184
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0967-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Golgo 13

Golgo 13 Vol. #12

By Greg Hackmann     April 17, 2008
Release Date: December 01, 2007

Golgo 13 Vol.#12
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takao Saito
Translated by:Kenichiro Yagi
Adapted by:Carl Gustav Horn

What They Say
1976: When congressional hearings expose a CIA chemical warfare program, Golgo is tasked to destroy the evidence on a hellish Pacific island - where he faces a showdown with one of the few men he could call an equal! Then, in 1974, the Deep South gets a visit from Golgo when Black Power activists hire him for a job in Mississippi that reveals him to be one bad brother!

Plus, FILE 13 tallies up the awesome balance sheet - just how much cash has G13 made in a career of killing?

The Review
The two Golgo 13 stories in this volume span a pretty short range of its decades-long run, coming from 1976 and 1974 respectively. "Shadow of Death", the first of these two stories, builds on the (then-contemporary) Cold War era paranoia of weapons stockpiling by the CIA and the KGB. In the wake of an American political scandal that threatens to expose a top-secret CIA bioweapons program, an unidentifiable political bigshot (his face conveniently masked by word balloons) calls in Golgo 13 to eliminate all evidence of weapons lab responsible for the program. The story then cuts to the Pacific Islands territory of Palau, where Togo is tasked with locating the lab in question (its exact location is unknown even to its American and Russian patrons) and dismantling it. This ends up being much easier said than done: the lab's weapons-producing facilities have been disguised as a meth lab, which is in turn hidden behind a papaya-production front to give the whole thing an extra air of legitimacy. After posing as a corrupt pharmacologist to get past the lab's first layer of security, Togo sneaks and threatens his way into getting the weapons labs' location on a remote island, and then proceeds to head there by sea. To make things even more interesting and convoluted, Togo finds himself half-pursued, half-assisted by a KGB operative apparently sent with the same end goal.

"The Dark-Skinned Sniper" presents the reader with a much more tighter political focus, shifting things squarely back to America but keeping the story within the confines of a small town in Mississippi. Golgo 13's services are solicited here by Sammy Brown, a Vietnam veteran who's seeking justice for a comrade-in-arms driven to suicide by the harassment of local policemen. Togo's target, Colonel Kirk Rolland, is your basic stereotypical Deep Southern corrupt cop: underhanded, incredibly racist, and mostly motivated by his own self-interests. When word of a Golgo 13's entrance into the city makes its way to Rolland, Togo's cover is apparently blown: as a Japanese man in a highly-segregated small town, he doesn't really have the option of hiding out among the locals. But as the title of this episode implies, Togo's got a way out of the situation: a ridiculous amount of tanning and methoxsalen pills later, he's able to disguise himself as an African American and bide his time under the protection of the local Black Panthers chapter.

This is actually my first exposure to Golgo 13, and I was a little surprised by both how much and how little it met my preconceptions about the series. My impressions of the first story really echoed a lot of things I'd heard about the series, both good and bad, from other readers ... especially the contrived and fractured plot. I'm happy to go along with the basic conspiracy-driven plot line -- heck, I'll even buy that the lab's whole convoluted scheme immediately folds under Togo's espionage skills, just for the sake of argument -- but too many things are just thrown into the mix without any real explanation. Who's the shadowy figure behind Golgo 13's involvement in the case? What does the KGB have to do with the lab's destruction, and eventually with Togo himself? I know, I know, I'm missing the point by focusing on these plot holes: the real purpose of all this scaffolding is to get Togo in place to put a few bullets through the Bad Guys. But why does Saito bring these things up if he's not going to follow through on them? I still can't say the whole thing was a bad experience (it's weirdly entertaining despite how goofy it is, or maybe even because of it) but I definitely felt like a little more care in covering up these gaps in the story could have gone a long way.

I ended up enjoying "The Dark-Skinned Sniper" more, probably because it didn't fall victim to these oversights. Sure, Togo's plan to tan himself until he can pass off as a black American man is pretty ridiculous. But if you're willing to overlook that, the other basic elements of the plot are pretty much in line -- at least to the point that I'm willing to suspend my disbelief as Togo hops from point A to point B in a plan that's probably a lot more sophisticated than it needs to be. This (relatively) tight storytelling style isn't what I came in expecting, especially after the sloppier conspiracy-oriented plot of the first story, but in my opinion this change worked out for the better.

Overall, I'm not really as enthusiastic now about this series as Ed has been about the previous volumes -- maybe the older releases covered a more interesting cross-section of stories? -- but it was still at least an entertaining enough read to warrant a purchase. Recommended.


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