Takao Saito – Leed Publishing – 1986 – 163+ volumes
this is actually volume 1 in a 4-volume series published by Leed in the mid-80s

Ridiculous. This was absolute lunacy. But I loved every page.

Most of the volume is taken up by the title story, as opposed to the usual split. Golgo 13 is hired by Mossad to penetrate a Nazi compound with absolutely airtight security. Again and again, it is reiterated that it is impossible to get into this place. Monitors, armed guards, locked doors, the whole works.

How does Golgo 13 do it? It may or may not involve building a complete replica on a movie lot and doing timed runs through it.

He’s actually hired to recover a hostage. When the hostage, towards the end of the story, hears a commotion, he and the Nazi officers assume that there’s a team of men infiltrating the compound. Actually, it’s just Duke Togo, and he singlehandedly wipes out the entire Nazi army.

But the better question may be… what is this compound guarding? I was really hoping for one crazy extreme, and the story heavily hints at it, but the mastermind is still kind of interesting.

The second, very short story takes place in Afghanistan, and may or may not involve cornering Golgo 13 and finding out what he does. Most of the pleasure in this story is, again, knowing who Golgo 13 is and catching all the hints that the army drops while they try to track him down. It’s stories like this that are just so Golgo 13. He’s a great character, and it’s stories like this, ones that lean on his very unique and specific characteristics, that make this series such a pleasure to read. Well, that and the fact his unique and specific characteristics lend themselves well to completely insane storylines, like the Fall of the Fourth Reich story in this volume.

I’m almost through all my old Golgo 13 stories! Just one more of this volume, and the 3-issue Viz series to go. So sad. Hopefully JManga will have hooked us up with some new content before I polish this off. I keep watching the site, seeing all those Takao Saito releases, and hoping that Golgo 13 is coming soon. I really should buy some of the other titles to support the chances of that happening. I’m sure they’re just a crazy-awesome.

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.

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Golgo 13: Ice Lake Hit

March 25, 2012

Takao Saito – Leed Publishing – 1986 – 1 volume
this is actually volume 3 in the 4-volume Golgo 13 series published by Leed in the mid-80s

I’m still absolutely thrilled that I found new Golgo 13. Every volume just reminds me of how awesome this series is. To be fair, I have yet to stumble upon another story that is as much my flavor as the second half of the Galinpero volume in all this old English content. But every Golgo 13 story is special in its own way.

The first story in this volume, Ice Lake Hit, takes place in Canada. It opens with Duke Togo hunting moose, but of course he’s doing so with a high-powered rifle and tags one from 500 feet away. And not just one, but two, with a single bullet. Because he’s Duke Togo. This gets him in trouble with the RCMP because his hunting permit only allows him to kill 1 moose. He gets into further trouble when one of the police officers comes from behind and he instinctively breaks the man’s arm. He’s arrested, but luckily, word about him spreads and his target comes to him, hoping to catch him off guard while he’s handcuffed and detained by the police. This doesn’t work, and he escapes with his enemies’ female getaway driver. She’s the only one that can lead him to his real target, a defected CIA officer. The hit was commissioned by none other than the US Government. The ending is quite spectacular. “Will the helicopter be able to spot us?” indeed.

The second story is more investigative, where a distraught ranch owner hires Golgo 13 to find out who is stealing her horses and punish them, since the local law refuses to “waste time” doing so. In particular, she wants revenge for the disappearance and likely slaughter of her horse, Whitey, who was apparently the love of her life. So Duke Togo shows up in Texas to investigate horse thieving. The perpetrators are likely a gang of punk kids, but the ones actually behind the horse meat ring are more difficult to track down.

The latter story was my favorite. Mainly because the subject matter was so much different than the usual dire government emergency that most Golgo 13 hits wind up dealing with. The woman that commissions the hit fully admits that it’s ridiculous, and most people would laugh at her, but Duke Togo simply says he only judges people based on the terms of the contract, and says nothing about what he thinks of it. The strange direction it takes is also interesting. The horses aren’t just being stolen, but butchered, and their meat is being exported from the US on the black market. At one point, Duke Togo runs across the gang of punk kids butchering the meat from the bones of the stolen horses and burying their skeletons to hide the evidence. Plus, western-themed mysteries are always a favorite of mind, regardless of context.

The first story is a little more exciting though, and contains more of the expected knee-jerk awesome moments. And I like the Canadian setting. I think it’s only the third manga I’ve ever read that has a Canadian setting. Oddly, the other two – The Tyrant Falls in Love and The Recipe for Gertrude – were both things I read within the past few months as well. And all three couldn’t have less to do with each other, other than the Canadian connection. But other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward Golgo 13 story, exactly what you’d expect, and still awesome.

I am so happy I found these. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying all this new-to-me English content.

Takao Saito – Leed Publishing – 1989 – 1 volume
This is the first of a 2-issue run published by Leed in 1990

Another from the Golgo 13 archives, this time around this is a single story. The hit happens within the first pages, and the story unfolds as two detectives try desperately to connect Duke Togo to a recent hit.

It’s a great story. It starts when a police officer finds a spent rifle casing on the sidewalk outside the hotel Duke Togo is staying at. Elsewhere, a bigwig is assassinated, and somehow, the detective working on the murder puts the random report of a rifle cartridge found hot and just fired to the case he’s working on. He uses the bullet trajectory at the crime scene to determine what floor the assassin fired from, and seals off Golgo 13’s building, using process of elimination to find Duke Togo in his room.

Duke Togo is about as helpful as you would expect in this situation. I was a little confused, because he drops the case in the first place, and then allows himself to be caught by the police. They even find his M-16 discarded nearby. It seems to go against his nature. A comment by the detective at the end of the story waves this away, but it still bugged me a little.

I loved the structure of this one. Rather than following Golgo 13 as he infiltrated an organization, or did all sorts of fancy footwork to get near his target and kill them, this one goes backwards and tries to pin the murder back on Duke Togo. Not that this is the only story I’ve read that breaks the formula. I love that this series has so many different narrative strategies, but I liked this one in particular.

So, how does that go for the detective? The answer is in the title. I loved it.

This volume/issue also has a strategy guide for Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode for NES. Alas, I only have the Mafat Conspiracy, and I was unable to use this guide for anything.

Golgo 13: Galinpero

March 8, 2012

Takao Saito – LEED Publishing – 1986 – 163+ volumes
this is volume 2 of a 4-volume set released by LEED in the mid-80s

For the purposes of posting them here, I’m not exactly sure how to number any of the non-2005 Viz Golgo 13 content that was translated into English, so I’m just going to use the names of the books for all of them.

I found this on the shelf at the used bookstore I work at. I thought that the only other Golgo 13 stories translated into English were a few issues released to coincide with the NES games. When I saw the title “Galinpero,” I thought this might be a Spanish translation. I was so fascinated by the fact I had never heard of there being more English volumes that I read the whole thing while I was standing there. We had two of the other volumes from this run, and I went home and ordered all of the rest of the Golgo 13 that had been translated in English. Because I realized it didn’t matter what form it was in, I absolutely needed to read more of this.

One more tangent before I get started: I ordered the third volume from one of our other locations. Enroute, apparently the envelope ripped open, and a well-meaning postal worker tried their best to fix it. When it arrived, my package contained a gun catalog. I love my life.

This book absolutely does not disappoint. I do like the format of the newer Viz volumes, where not only are we guaranteed the best of what the series has to offer, the volumes are split between an older, hardboiled 70s story and a newer, more politically-minded story. I wasn’t sure what was up with these volumes, if they were randomly selected stories or if this series started with the 60s Golgo 13 stories. I can’t really tell, but both the stories in this volume are fantastic, and both are politically-minded and equally insane/hardboiled.

The second story, the 110 Degree Angle, was my favorite. It involved the murder of a woman in a diplomat’s car in New York City. Turns out she’s the niece of the advisor to the King of Saudi Arabia. The advisor thinks that this is a CIA plot to get Saudi Arabia to reopen peace talks with Israel. He pays lip service to the investigation into her murder, but hires Golgo 13 in order to get personal vengeance. But when the investigation points the finger at his own son, he hurriedly tries to stop Duke Togo with a team of secret and very powerful assassins. I knew immediately where this was going, and it’s just as fantastic as you’d expect, but this isn’t the main event.

Actually, the main event is a spoiler. This book is super-rare, and 25 years old at this point, and Golgo 13. There’s only one way all these stories end, so I don’t know how badly I can “spoil” this. Still, if you were planning on reading this, don’t read below the cut.

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Golgo 13 13

December 25, 2009

Takao Saito – Viz – 2008 – 13 volumes
The Viz edition is a 13-volume “Best Of” selection.  Golgo 13 is 148+ volumes

I was hoping that the last volume of the series wouldn’t disappoint, especially with an awesome name like “Flagburner,” and I wasn’t disappointed.  The title story, the second and shortest in the volume, was highly amusing.  It involved Golgo 13, the 2000 US Presidential Elections, the Florida recount, a disgruntled White House gardener, and Bill Clinton going in through the backdoor.  It was brilliant.

The first story was about the murder of an entire family, including parents and children, just after WWII.  The single daughter disappeared with the housekeeper, and the one surviving son was close-lipped on the murder and was eventually adopted by a distant relative.  The detectives on the case spend their entire lives wondering what on earth happened that night, and other odd things crop up over the years, such as a mysterious meeting between the surviving brother and sister that resulted in the complete disappearance of the sister, and the mysterious but too-far-for-sniping shooting deaths of two others connected.  It becomes clear fairly early on that this is a kind of Golgo 13 origin story.  It’s quite good, and takes up most of the volume.  Real hardboiled stuff, pretty extreme, and a good mystery, which is some of the best of what the series does.  The ending is ambiguous too, which I liked a lot.

The icing on the cake are the essays in the back, by both the Japanese editor of the series and the American editor, who is famous for the… thorough end notes in the back of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, among other things (the hilarious dialogue in the beginning of Banana Fish and all of Flowers and Bees, for instance, or perhaps the entertaining letters columns in the back of the new editions of Oh My Goddess).  Topics such as Golgo 13 boxers, how he encountered Golgo 13 at a young (“shotalicious”) age in an encyclopedia of international comics, and other amazing revelations come to the foreground in the final essay.  It blew my mind, and I couldn’t be happier with it as a resolution to the American editions, unless it started talking about how more volumes are in the works.  Which it doesn’t.  It does end with the comment about how people see and learn about Golgo 13 and never ask why he doesn’t look Japanese, which is something I’d like to staple to the forehead of at least three of my college professors.

There is a final footnote that mentions something about the Golgo 13 story “At Pin-Hole,” then makes the mature observation that the final word of the series is “hole.”

Golgo 13 12

November 19, 2009

Takao Saito – Viz – 2007 – 13 volumes
the US edition is based on a special “greatest hits” release of the manga.  Golgo 13 is 154+ volumes.

Oh, Duke Togo.  So serious.  So much fun to read about.  I like the stories better when there’s not a huge government conspiracy involved.  The first story starts out with some CIA line, but then quickly turns into a Golgo 13 versus a Russian counterpart face-off.  The second story is a personal vendetta, which are my favorite stories.

The first story was interesting because the first third of the story is Duke Togo catching up to someone who is clearly ahead of him and after the same thing, and then there’s a small segment where that man chases after Duke Togo, and then they briefly work together.  The motives of the Russian man are never made clear, and the story is interesting because you are waiting to see how one reacts to the other.  The ending was the most interesting part of all.  The plot involves busting up some sort of… poison/drug lab that serves several nations in secret.  Golgo 13 is hired because the CIA is in hot water and needs the poison disposed of immediately.  If they can’t use it, no one can.

The second story is about a man who hires Golgo 13 to take out the mayor of a certain town in Mississippi.  The mayor is hilariously racist, and he and his police squad use several slurs I’ve never even heard before.  The mayor catches wind of Golgo 13 coming to assassinate him, so we also get the slurs about Duke Togo being Japanese, and it only gets better when Golgo 13 teams up with a black resistance movement set on stopping the mayor.  It didn’t strike me as insulting since the portrayal is so over-the-top.  We are told immediately that the mayor is like this, and everything out of his mouth is some sort of slur, which pretty much means you can’t take him seriously.  Also, you know he’ll get his in the end, anyway.

Notably, Golgo 13 uses methoxsalen to darken his skin, knowing that the police will shoot any Asian man they see on site.  Also notable is the fact that Golgo 13 is shown with women in both stories, something that hasn’t happened in a long time.

The File 13 in the back is about Golgo 13’s income and expenditures.  It is quite possibly the geekiest thing I’ve ever seen, where the amounts he was paid from every story it was mentioned in are added up, and then any expenditure that is mentioned is taken away from this total, then things like averages for the jobs where pay isn’t mentioned are discussed at length, as are anomalies and other things about his finances.  I read the whole thing, and as impressive as it is… that’s ten minutes of my life I’m never getting back.