By Leroy Douresseaux
November 1, 2006 - 10:45
Judas is a handsome young man. Dressed in black and with the body of a male model, he should be living the life of an eligible bachelor. Instead, he's cursed because of his sins to be the spirit of Death. In order to regain his humanity, he must kill and take 666 souls. Worse, Judas is forbidden human contact, so he's without corporeal form.
He's a ghostly presence and can only act in the physical world through the body of his slave, Eve. Judas forces Eve to carry out his most heinous acts, and that's not the only wrong Judas forces upon Eve. Eve is really a boy, but when Judas discovered him, Eve looked like a girl, so now Judas forces Eve to always look like a girl. Whenever someone hurts Eve to the point that even a drop of Eve's blood is spilled, Judas takes over Eve's body and kills that person in order to get his soul.
This awful union is how Eve meets Professor Mizuki Ayase. Only 16-years old, Mizuki is Japan's best scientist, and she even developed a cure for leukemia. When someone close to Mizuki meets his demise at the hands of Eve/Judas, Mizuki moves Eve into her apartment to keep an eye of Eve and also on Judas' activities. Mizuki believes that there is something larger at work - a mystery surrounding not just her, Eve, and Judas, but even the people she loves.
Judas is a strange horror fantasy, and it's hard to compare it to other Manga or comics, although the idea of a dark force possessing a human and coming out on special occasions to kill is not new. The narrative is, however, exceptionally creepy and strange, and though it starts out slow, the deeper into the narrative the reader goes, the more mesmerizing it becomes. You can't stop; it's like your eyes being drawn to an automobile accident.
Still, the story moves with an awkward gait, as if the Manga-ka does not understand that it's the action and horror sequences that give Judas its groove. The slapstick and domestic comedy are mostly out of place in Judas. The art is also a mixed bag, but it gets much better as the narrative moves forward. Minazuki's art certainly resembles that hyper-kinetic style to which many Americans were exposed via Manga and Anime in the 1980's and early 1990's. Judas' killer ending suggests that the action will become more wild and the violence more brutal in coming chapters.
Meanwhile, although the story would seem to focus on the Eve/Judas dynamic, the reader views much of the narrative through Mizuki. She's the kind of engaging female character that works well in sci-fi and fantasy genres - vulnerable, but tough, and pretty but intelligent (Ripley from the Alien film franchise).