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.
In modern days, it has become a somewhat amusing joke to say that “no one dies in (insert Jump title here)”, be it Bleach, One Piece (until recently), or other such series. There are lots of apparent deaths, but it is a very popular cliche to have the supposedly dead person reappear to much rejoicing, and Jump in particular loves to do it. That said, this is a good 25 years earlier, and so JoJo’s is not afraid to brutally murder major cast members in order to advance the plot and provide much character development and tears of rage from our titular hero. Indeed, the villains are so arrogant that being killed by one of them personally is deemed to be a blessing given to a worthy opponent – attention has been paid.
Last arc it was Speedwagon who survived, with Jonathan being killed off right at the very end. Joseph is a different, less tragic sort of hero, and so it falls to Caesar to be the one who loses his life so that the others may pursue their goal of defeating the evil whositses – honestly, a lot of the plot details of JoJo still tend to whiz by me as people scream battle poses at each other. Not that this is a bad thing – that is why we read this series, as Araki is very good at keeping a reader’s interest with reaction shots and amazed exclamations. Take, for example, the return of Stroheim, who has returned as something of a cyborg, and manages for a while to go toe to toe with Kars (named after the band, or the Gary Numan song? Or both). This despite the fact that the entire “he’s a Nazi, but I don’t hate him as a person” plotline is deeply uncomfortable, and I won’t cry when we leave World War II behind.
As for Joseph himself, he is, as ever, more of a trickster than his grandfather was, which allows him more success in battle against enemies who are prone to being faked out. Of course, this comes with cocksure arrogance and sometimes a petulant anger as well. He’s at his best here dealing with Suzie Q, who he flirts with for about two pages before she’s possessed by another one of the bad guys. This is why seeing him and Lisa Lisa devastated at the climax of this volume is so heartbreaking. We don’t like seeing Joseph like this. I have no doubt that he will get an epic revenge in the fourth and final volume of this arc, but will he be able to bounce back and show us some cocksurity? Who knows.
By now anyone reading this series knows what they’re getting into. I wish there was less “Nazis may be evil but they sure are cool” here, to be frank, but other than that this is wall to wall excellent shonen at 100% volume.