By Leroy Douresseaux
April 7, 2007 - 15:04
SHONEN JUMP #43
368 pp., Color and B&W, $4.99
When it comes to comics, Viz Media's Shonen Jump is the audacity of hope. What comics fan wouldn't want the equivalent of 8 new comic books for the price of about $5 before taxes? I'd have to go back to about a quarter-century ago for that. It's no wonder that Viz supposedly has a print run of about 150,000 on the newsstand alone for this title. Young readers, many of whom haven't invested a good deal of their identity and/or sanity in following the adventures of Marvel or DC Comics various intellectual properties, have embraced this anthology of diverse shonen manga (comics for teenaged boys). I consider myself lucky to have come across this issue on my desk under a pile of papers - a gift from the fair folk who reside in my house?
Shonen Jump, Vol. 4, Issue 7 (July 2006, #43) is a special because it opens with a preview of the end of Dragon Ball Z. Despite its impending demise, DBZ is as lively as ever. This hot opening is sort of a telltale sign of what's to come; practically everything else in this issue is tight. Buso Renkin, from mangaka Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of Rurouni Kenshin, is the tale of boy killed when he defends a mysterious girl from a monster. He awakens thinking he dreamed his death, but discovers that it did happen and that he's been reborn as a "weapons alchemist." Now, where his destroyed heart once resided in his chest is a "super-paranormal alloy" that can become a giant lance he will use to fight "alchemic monsters."
Meanwhile, what's an issue of Shonen Jump without a few chapters of Naruto? This time our favorite ninja-in-training bargains with the nine-tailed fox demon that resides within him. In Shaman King, chapters 86-87, Yoh Asakura and friends take on a pushy, but immensely powerful and highly skilled young Brit who claims to need their friendship. He's willing to fight them nearly to the death to gain it!
In One Piece, our hero Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew discover the secret of the whale named Laboon that swallowed them. Hikaru no Go, about the high stakes world of the board game "Go," features lovely almost American-styled art. Likewise, in Yu-Gi-Oh!: Millennium World, mangaka Kazuki Takahashi's copious use of toning gives the art a rich texture and a painterly feel. In YuYu Hakusho, the vile and bloodthirsty Toguro kills a main character and that has the hero Yusuke Urameshi looking for payback.
The fact that this comics magazine is a year old doesn't matter. Seek it out, or better yet, do as I did. Let it be the catalyst that sends you looking for other editions.