What I continue to enjoy about this series is that each volume presents a new aspect of the story. It could have just continued down the very simple path that the first volume laid out, but it instead continues to build the world in a way that’s rewarding with each development. There’s also not the impression that this was written week by week like most manga, but instead mapped out and written as a graphic novel. Now don’t assume that means that all manga should follow this pattern because the thing that’s charming about most manga is that it is changing and shifting weekly and still manages to be as strong as it is. It just shows that there’s not all series need it and hell, this one could be written weekly as well, I can’t say for sure. If it is, then it’s mapped out and planned significantly better than others because each volume really has a natural beginning, middle and end.
Now, what’s new in this volume? Well Shinjiro is taken to an alien city that is somewhere on earth. They don’t know where exactly and so it functions on its own away from the rest of the world. Moroboshi, the dude that doesn’t feel as if Shinjiro will ever be good enough to be Ultraman, ends up being Shinjiro’s tour buddy. They’re there to talk to a human informant about two cases that involve aliens. One is the body harvesters and the other is the serial killer who we know is an alien and is killing people who are bad mouthing his favorite idol.
The alien city is very strange. Obviously not all of the aliens are bad, but so far in the story that’s all we’ve meet. It seems like a goal of the SSSP’s to shut the place down as well, but because they don’t know where it’s located exactly they can’t spend the resources or something that we have yet to be told.
We meet the character Jack who seems like a perfect candidate to be a Ultraman. That’s right, Ultraman(s) because this book is producing more than one at the moment which is another great twist. While with Jack, he tests Shinjiro’s strength against a powerful alien fighter. Which Moroboshi watches until he needs to step in and prevent any more property damage.
I can’t get enough of the art and the design of this series. Everything from the lettering to the artwork is aesthetically pleasing to look at. In a way it reminds me of the way that Jonathan Hickman sets up his comic book. If you like that, then you’ll like Ultraman. Because each volume has had a different focus we actually see Shinjiro out of costume a lot in this volume and it really shows the range and skill of the two creators because it’s still visually interesting and extremely detailed. That artwork wasn’t less interesting because it lacked Ultraman, which was definitely the case when digesting old Ultraman material. Instead of just wanting Ultraman, you want the world that he’s in now. That’s a huge feat and a lot of that stems from how strong the artwork is.
Who can say what the fourth volume holds. It could stop shifting and presenting something new, but I have a feeling that the creators aren’t done world building which is just incredible. Most series have to build their entire world in about two issues and yet after hundreds of pages and three volumes we’re still reading the surface of Ultraman’s world. This Ultraman at its finest.
Ultraman Vol. 3 Creators: Eiichi Smiizu, Tomohiro Shimoguchi Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature Price: $12.99 Format: TPB; Print/Digital