By Hirohiko Araki. Released in Japan as “Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media.
There was a bit of a worry in the Jump editorial offices when the 2nd part of this series began, Araki tells us, as Jump rarely killed off the hero and then kept going. This is why Joseph Joestar is a clone of his grandfather in terms of looks. Thankfully, he doesn’t act remotely like his grandfather, and we get to enjoy seeing a hero who is far more in the mold we’re used to today: brash, immature, confident, and a bit of a jerk. But he loves his grandma, and when it turns out that an ancient evil is upon them once more, he drops everything and bikes to Mexico to figure out what’s going on. Once again, no one does things in JoJo, they overdo them.
The first half of this omnibus gives us a lot to work with, as Joseph Joestar arrives in New York City and immediately starts beating up cops, making friends of black pickpockets, and dealing with an old ally from the first series who has now turned evil fifty years later as he seeks to find a way to keep himself young and powerful. Yes, Straizo is our initial villain, as he and Speedwagon are no longer brothers in arms (see what I did there?), but he’s mostly just a teaser to show off that Joseph is starting out this series with an innate knowledge of the things Jonathan had to learn. Not that there won’t be training arcs in this series, but Joseph has an advantage from the start. He’s also cocky, with his tendency to predict the corny lines people will say to him endearingly dickish.
It’s a good thing that he has such a strong personality, as the rest of the cast doesn’t get as much of a chance to shine. Speedwagon and Erina are still around, but their function is the same even as they’ve become elderly: stare in awe at what is going on around them and comment aloud on it. Smokey too doesn’t do much here except be a standard sidekick, and he doesn’t even get to go to Mexico with Joseph. Indeed, the other character who gets the most development is one of the villains, von Stroheim (not named after a band, but a film director this time), who is a Nazi trying to use the newly discovered Pillar Men to help Hitler, but rapidly finds himself in over his head.
Those who enjoyed the first arc of JoJo’s should not be too worried about things being different here. Joseph may be a different personality, but the author isn’t, and there’s lots of things like his using Coca-Cola or cacti as amazing weapons to please the reader who just wants to see… well, bizarre things. This is a manga that can make a line like “How did he stop my Hamon-infused spaghetti al nero?!” into dramatic climaxes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The cliffhanger also implies that Jonathan wasn’t the only one to leave badass descendants. Fans of ridiculous Jump manga will find this is more ridiculous than the ones most influenced by it.