Thursday, January 15, 2015

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #27 Review (Spoilers)

Written by: Jiro Kuwata
Art by: Jiro Kuwata
Cover Price: $1.99
Release Date: January 3, 2015

The Hangman of Terror - Chapter 4 of 4

I take back what I said the other day when I reviewed issue #26 of Batmanga: the party where Cathy attempts to kill herself by jumping off a bridge into the water wasn't intense at all when held up against the end of this issue.

Before I talk about the ending (there will be spoilers and it does get real) allow me to talk about the positives of this issue. When I saw that Batman would be going up against a professional wrestler I wasn't surprised, given the sports popularity in Japan. I was let down, however, as I read through the story and none of the battles between Batman and Hangman actually took place in a wrestling ring.

Luckily that has been rectified here, with Batman challenging the Hangman to a mask vs mask match, in classic style. The sequence has its ups and downs revealing that Bruce Wayne donned a fake face to catch the Hangman off guard and ultimately prove his identity once and for all so he can be brought to justice for the crimes he committed.

Regardless, even the best wrestling match in the world can't make up for how dark the story turns. Looking past the fact that the Hangman is actually a professional wrestler named Ultragun who was presumed dead, it's the last couple of panels that really hit me hard, given previous life experiences. When we take the time to look at various aspects of Japanese culture you never think that popular American characters would be in a book aimed at kids where a characters leaps off the roof of a building to his death, as penance for his crimes.

And I thought the first episode of Batman (1966) was dark...

Moving on from that though I noticed something in the opening credits for this issue that I realized I never touch on, especially in these Batmanga reviews.

Jiro Kuwata wrote and illustrated over a thousand pages of Batman stories that were initially released only in Japan, with parts of the work seeing publication in America. This digital series is the first time that the complete Batmanga is being translated and released stateside.

At this time I just want to give a special thanks to Wes Abbot, who took the time to letter this issue. He wouldn't know what to write, though, if not for the hard work of the talented Sheldon Drzka, who specializes in translating anime and manga from Japanese to English.

Bits and Pieces

This issue was particularly interesting as it was well put together on Jiro Kuwata's end. In terms of story this was easily one of my favorite issues of Batmanga since I started reviewing this series--up to a point. That point was at the end and while I can't dock this issue points for a subject that it appears is handled quite differently on opposite sides of the world, it's one that can't help but make me stop and really think.


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