Beautifully drawn and thoroughly intriguing, this is one to watch out for.
Writer/Artist: Keitaro Takahashi
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
Jonah was a child soldier, born in the chaotic conflicts that rage across Africa, his family lost to a war fueled by weapons supplied by the so-called "Merchants of Death" - international arms dealers.
Despite Jonah's hatred of weapons and violence, he employs both extremely well, and does so in the service of high-flying arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her band of mercenaries. Their journey through the dark underbelly of the world's arms markets may lead only to damnation, but will Jonah one day make his way back to the light? Only one thing is certain; it's a long, hard road out of Hell...
The cover on this book is fantastic and instantly gripping, with an appropriately dark image of Koko grinning and Jonah facing away while holding a gun over his shoulder. A lot of detail went into this image and it looks wonderful. The back cover contains a summary, a few logos, and a line of bullets that use different material and are slightly raised, causing them to pop out of the page. The outside cover has a nice feel and texture to it and the book is noticeably larger than most single volumes. Sadly, the paper in the book itself feels a little thin, but only a little. As for extras, a bonus gag manga called “Munmungand” is included, in addition to an explanation of the origin of the name “Jormungand.” The text reads smoothly, but unfortunately honorifics are not maintained and sound effects are treated in general Viz fashion, replacing the original characters with translated ones instead of subtitling them. On the plus side, a good number of the military and weaponry terms are given footnotes.
The art in this book is simply gorgeous. The character designs are varied and unique, with a fair amount of detail given to each. Backgrounds are well drawn and show up fairly often. However, what truly sets this series apart is the weapons and vehicles, which are given a truly exquisite amount of detail. It’s simply stunning to see how much effort must’ve gone into drawing a helicopter or a handgun.
Jonah is none too happy with the world, his parents having been killed by a bomb and leaving him all alone. This has left him with a rather understandable hatred of people who make, use, and sell weapons, which makes it all the more odd that we find him working for the young arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar. Jonah is a new recruit to Koko’s team of nine, Jonah included, and he soon finds himself on his first mission. The government has impounded Koko’s container, and instead of choosing to play by their rules and pay them what they want, she decides to take her crew and get back her merchandise by force. Unsurprisingly this quickly turns into an interesting firefight in which Koko’s team shows off their skills, fend off their opponents, and come out on top.
In the second story, a rival arms dealer attempts to muscle in on Koko’s territory. Koko obviously isn’t too happy about this, and manages to prevent the shipment, but also show her opponent how insignificant he really is in the process.
The book wraps up with a two part story in which the team attempts to make a delivery, only to find that things aren’t going to go as planned. A coup has occurred leaving Koko with a new client who’s pressuring her to make a deal that she doesn’t want. To make matters worse, some old acquaintances of Koko’s are on the scene, including the battle crazed Mildo and the scheming president of England’s CCAT, Mr. Curry. Koko intends to make her escape, and things erupt into a fantastic battle of wits and bloody combat.
Jormungand is truly invigorating read, full of beautiful art, flowing battle scenes, and interesting characters. Koko is a fun character who’s eccentric yet incredibly calculating, making her a great leader for the team. Jonah is usually silent and unmoving, but occasionally lets a bit of his inner self slip out, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops as a lead as the series continues. The rest of Koko’s team isn’t overly developed yet, but Valmet, a female killing machine with an eye patch, is given a bit of time to shine. However, the book is so packed full that this is hardly a detriment, and with the way this series is moving I have no doubt that the rest of the group will flesh out nicely as things move on. Do yourself a favor and give this one a try.