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Astro Boy, Vol. 3 Paperback – June 11, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
For those unfamiliar with Tezuka, Japan's manga master, the first English translation of the original Astro Boy series will be a revelation, both for its inventive charm and for its surprising sophistication. In "The Greatest Robot on Earth," the novel-length first story of this third volume in the series, the eponymous hero is one of seven robots being targeted by a crazy sultan intent on declaring his own robot, Pluto, the greatest in the world. Pluto dispatches his competitors with ease, but Astro Boy is a robot of a different order. He's the size and shape of a little boy, with spirit and spunk to match, and also has searchlight eyes, jet rockets in his feet and an atomic engine for a heart. This is a pre-digital, 1950s Cold War vision of modernity. Astro Boy must open his chest when he wants to check the time, and the threat of an arms race haunts the story, but Tezuka's generous characterizations give this story a timeless relevance. These robots might disintegrate into piles of screws and bolts, but like humans, they're capable of pride, affection and even a kind of love. Operating out of a steadfast loyalty, they are undone by the greed of the humans who created them. The clean, bold lines of Tezuka's remarkably efficient artwork complement his dynamic storytelling, proving the artist equally adept at capturing nuances in expressions and the explosive action of fight sequences. Entertaining and beautifully executed, this, along with the other pocket-sized editions in the series, is destined to become a classic.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Volume 3 has one of the biggest stories of the Astro Boy series, `The Greatest Robot on Earth' featuring the robot wrecking machine Pluto. Pluto is the reluctant protagonist designed to destroy the seven strongest robots in the world including Astro Boy. Although he dutifully obeys his master, Sultan Chochi Chochi Araba, Pluto clearly takes no pleasure in destroying robots and refuses to harm ones not on his list. After surviving a losing battle with Pluto Astro Boy decides he must increase his power from one hundred thousand horsepower to one million but Professor Ochanomizu's nose literally flies off his face at the prospect of such an upgrade. After a second failed encounter with Pluto readers are treated to the return of Astro's creator Dr. Tenma who agrees to do what Ochanomizus refused, boost Astro to one million horsepower. This is the most action packed and emotional story I've yet read in the series. Tezuka introduces the story by telling how much he enjoyed creating it and it really shows. This is Tezuka at his best.
Once again I want to bring up that this is not a complete collection. The last big story in volume 2 ended in January 1962 and first story here was produced in June 1964 which leaves a gap of around a year and a half. Astro's little sister Uran has a larger roll in this book after simply appearing in the previous volume with no introduction and we still don't know who built her. The reintroduction of Dr. Tenma is the first we've seen him since he sold Astro in disgust back in volume 1 but based on the reaction from Astro I suspect this is not his first reappearance. I also have the feeling that some of these pages were originally in color and were reproduced in black and white. The final story, "Mad Machine" is from 1958 and the first story I've seen out of chronological order. I do recommend the book but wish the presentation could have been better.
First, as Tezuka tells us himself in the introduction, the novel-length story "The Greatest Robot on Earth" that comprises most of this volume is one of his most popular Astro Boy stories. It's a children's comics classic about the world's seven strongest robots, and like all Tezuka works has a number of themes and messages buried beneath the surface. It's excellent reading for kids, Tezuka fans, and adults interested in the comics medium in general.
Second, "The Greatest Robot on Earth" inspired a recent manga called Pluto, which has been running in Japan since 2003, won numerous awards and is drawing comparisons to such graphic novel greats as Alan Moore's Watchmen. Pluto is by Naoki Urasawa, famous for his long, intelligent and realistic mystery and sci-fi thrillers Monster and 20th Century Boys. Viz is scheduled to start publishing Pluto in English in February 2009. Having read most of Pluto myself, I can say that it is a marvel of modern manga storytelling that re-imagines "The Greatest Robot on Earth" and makes it darker, more adult, and more complex. It's fascinating to read this volume and Pluto together to see how Urasawa took inspiration from Tezuka's adventure story and expanded on its characters and universe (Pluto has run 50-odd chapters as of mid-2008).
If you only ever buy one volume of Astro Boy, make it this one.
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“Astro Boy, Vol. 3” by Osamu Tezuka, a legendary manga master, is the third volume in a twenty-three-volume manga series Astro Boy.Read more
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