Golgo 13: Hopper the Border

April 19, 2012

Takao Saito – Leed Publishing – 1990 – 163+ volumes
this is issue 2 of a 2-issue series published by Leed Publishing in 1990

Going back through these old stories, and with the experiences I’ve had with cheapo translations recently, I can’t help being impressed with the translations in these old Golgo 13 issues, which come straight from the Japanese publisher. While “Hopper the Border” is a strange title, to say the least, that’s the only hiccup in translation through this entire issue.

This issue was published in conjunction with the Golgo 13 NES games, so it’s interesting to me that they chose this story to introduce people to Duke Togo. Perhaps there was a length restriction, but the pleasure to be had in this story comes from knowing who Golgo 13 is, and what he’s going to do at the end.

Actually, I liked this issue so much that I’m just going to walk you through it. I’m cutting it for spoilers, but odds are, none of you are going to hunt through the backissues for this. It’s extremely difficult to find, though not at all valuable since nobody wants it. It’s in color too, like any other comic published in America at the time, which is a bizarre thing for a Golgo 13 story.

The story starts off in the mountains, with a Russian hitman on the radio with his boss. He’s finished the job, and he’s coming home. All the signs are here that this guy, operating as covertly as possible, is Golgo 13’s next target. He’s in the mountains, by himself, and it’s snowing. He might as well have a target painted on his back.

Except… he goes into an abandoned cabin to take shelter, and encounters a young couple. The two are eloping, and it turns out the woman has a very wealthy and influential father that hates her new husband. There’s no telling what’s going to happen when he finds out the two have eloped, so they have to flee the country and are waiting for their contact in the cabin.

Wealthy, influential, angry father that loves his young daughter very much? In the middle of the mountains? And it’s snowing? And they’re trying to run away? And night is falling? Well, guess who’s going down.

So, the hitman and the young couple are waiting in the cabin, then two loud gangsters bust in. They start giving the others in the cabin a hard time, and begin bragging loudly about their misdeeds. They are not courteous the way the other three were about their private business, and one tries to rape the young woman while the others are sleeping.

Now, these two. These are clearly bad guys. Mystery solved. Certainly Golgo 13 was hired to rid humanity of these two.

Then Duke Togo, the man himself, shows up just in time to stop the rape. He says nothing. He handily beats up the two gangsters when they assault him for being… mysterious. After everyone else falls asleep. And he stares. There’s plenty of the usual Duke Togo “…” along with more tight zooms on people’s faces than you can shake a stick at.

So, who’s it going to be, Duke Togo? Who’s it going to be?

Then… he simply leaves. He’s just not there when everyone else wakes up. The others are all there to be smuggled across the border of some European country, so they head out to meet up with their contact, the titular “Hopper.”

Hopper lands in his chopper, then takes their money and double-crosses them. Says he’s getting out of the smuggling business, and won’t be taking them anywhere, least of all out of these remote mountains.

Then Golgo 13 snipes him and his two henchmen from across the mountains, leaving the five people with a running helicopter.

The end.

There’s no explanation that Golgo 13 is a hitman, nor of his M.O. If you’ve never read a Golgo 13 story before, you wouldn’t understand that all the characters introduced are potential marks, nor why the tension in the cabin was so high. In fact, you might be confused as to why the apparent hero of the comic wasn’t getting vengeance for that attempted rape. Or why he wasn’t saying anything. Or why he randomly killed a man at the end.

On the other hand, if you know, it’s spectacular.

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