May 3, 2016

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Ultraman Volumes 1 & 2 by Tomohiro Shimoguchi and Eiichi Shimizu



Ultraman Volumes 1 & 2
Written by Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Illustrated by Eiichi Shimizu
Published by Viz

I know we're all being sold a billion different "new" or reimagined versions of every single thing we ever loved, as well as everything we slightly remember due to those early morning sleep deprivation experiments that were Saturday Morning Cartoons.  And because they know we loved that stuff so much there are now unintelligible live-action Transformers movies, semi-animated Scooby-Doo films, and The Real Housewives of Gilligan's Island.  It's a minefield.

I get it. I understand.  I'm one of you too.  Someone who craves all the new things I didn't even know I was missing out on, someone who despises the very idea of new ideas coming in second place.

But not everything is aiming to suckerpunch you right in the nostalgia.  There are few things that are simply amazing and deserving of our attention.  Naoki Urasawa's retelling of Astroboy in his Pluto manga immediately jumps out to me as a great example of why it's a good idea to make that initial leap sometimes.  Knowing that kind of work is possible and out there under the guise of a reworked older property made it all the easier to pick up Ultraman Volume 1 by Shimoguchi and Shimizu.


I have lots of fond memories of watching the old Ultraman television show when I was a kid, but I honestly don't remember much about the whole mythos.  I remember he got big, fought kaiju, and had some sweet kung fu laser beam action.  And with that, I've already told you more than you need to know to enjoy this first volume, which will take those foggy memories (if you have them) and pull you right back in to a world where giant robot dudes fight surprisingly sneaky giant reptile kaiju. I don't believe this will disappoint anyone who might be on the fence.

Shimizu's line work is incredible, dynamic, and it lends itself really well to black and white. There are scenes in these first two volumes reminiscent of some of the biggest action-oriented science fiction manga series I've ever read. This isn't on the same level with Domu or even Blame!, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. Shimoguchi also has a nice mystery going so far in regards to the origins of Ultraman, the main character's origin, and the previous adventures of the earlier Ultraman which makes the decision to keep coming back a no brainier for me.


In lesser hands this book could be a silly Power Rangers nonsensical mess, but that is not what this is. This is the good stuff.

So if Saturday morning serials have a fond place in your heart, if "your" Godzilla is a guy in a rubber suit, or if you're just in the mood for some giant monster Kung fu action, this is worth picking up and diving in to.