Friday, May 13, 2016

"The Mysterious Underground Men" by Osamu Tezuka, edited by Ryan Holmberg (PictureBox)

ISBN: 978-1-939799-09-8 PictureBox

"The Mysterious Underground Men" by Osamu Tezuka, edited by Ryan Holmberg (PictureBox)

Osamu Tezuka is not only a manga comic god, but more important, a genius with ties to the Western tradition of comics as well.    "The Mysterious Underground Men" is a youth's tale of adventure, science and criminals.  The beauty of this story is that it is almost like a feverish mixture of criminals and sci-fi villains - all in one story.   Tezuka wrote and drew this manga in the late 1940s and what is fascinating to me is his positive attitude towards the wonder of science and what it can bring to mankind.  On the other hand, and only a few years when he wrote this manga, the atomic bomb killed thousands.  Yet, somewhere in his psyche, he looks up to science and the good that is human.  Yet, death lurks within the narrative, and he was perhaps one of the first manga writers for kids (later he wrote for adults) who introduce characters that will tragically die in the narrative. 

This beautifully designed book (like all titles published by PictureBox) is faithful to the tradition of the Japanese manga, but also brings in the retro look of that era into the packaging and design.  On top of that, the editor Ryan Holberg, in his introduction, brings in the influence of the 1930s serial Flash Gordon as well as comics like Blondie and various Walt Disney cartoons/comics as well.  Tezuka took all of this in, and in an essence, made a giant pot of soup, which is basically this manga.  "The Mysterious Underground Men" is a silly plot, yet what adventure is not basically silly. It's the imagination at work, and Tezuka like the professor or engineer in this story, can cook up the ultimate adventure yarn.  Excellent book. 

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