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Gantz Omnibus 1 Main

"Gantz Omnibus: Volume 1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Dark Horse Comics

article-cover

Written and illustrated by Hiroya Oku
Translated by Matthew Johnson
2018, 656 Pages
Graphic novel released on August 22nd, 2018

Review:

Where do you go when you die? After being runover by a subway train, Kei and Masaru end up in a small apartment in Tokyo with a few other folks and a large black orb. They're then sent out for what feels like a reality TV show to find and eliminate an alien in the area nearby. Armed with high tech weapons and special suits that enhance their strength, they head out for this strange game, but not all of them will make it back.

I had seen the anime series based on Gantz, so I was somewhat familiar with the premise, but nothing could have prepared me for Hiroya Oku's original manga. This book pulls no punches. It is absolutely brutal at times, showing the worst of humanity to the point you have to wonder why any of these people were selected for this second chance at life in the first place. Are they supposed to earn their life back? If so, why do they deserve it? There are some fascinating questions raised that we're just starting to dig into in this collection.

Gantz is unsettling from the get-go. It starts with a tense scene of Kei and Masaru saving a homeless man who has fallen on the subway tracks only to perish themselves. That whole breakdown is terrifying. Their reaction immediately afterwards, full of shock, is raw as they try to understand what just happened to them.

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Oku fleshes out the characters just enough so we have an idea of their personalities. Kei and Masaru are definitely central to the story, as is a young woman introduced shortly after. For the most part, they're jerks, but these three at least try to do some good. More accurately, it's the two guys who are trying. The girl just kind of follows along and doesn't contribute much. She's very much just there for eye candy, as the guys gawk over her.

This gets uncomfortable at times, especially a scene where Kei literally molests her. These segments feel shoehorned in, even more than your average sex scene in a horror movie. What's strange is how Oku seems to lean into it too. The chapters are often interspersed with pinups of this young woman wearing next to nothing.

Where Gantz falters in the “erotic” scenes, it makes up for in the action. It's off the charts. The weapons these folks have work on a weird time delay. Someone will pull the trigger and a few moments later, their target will explode. It's super gory and unpredictable. We're still figuring out how all these fit together, but there's more than enough intrigue here to grab your attention.

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The dynamic between Kei and the others will be an interesting aspect to watch out for in Gantz. These people are thrown together by an unknown force and sent out to kill aliens. That would be tough even with those you know best in the world and it's even harder with complete strangers. Add in the aggressive tendencies of some of the other folks, not to mention a complete psychopath, an old lady and her grandson, and a dog, and you've got a pretty crazy mix.

Gantz is extreme in the truest sense of the word. It can be uncomfortable at times, however the story powers through. I've heard some of the misogynistic elements are toned down in later volumes. This hefty omnibus, collecting the first three volumes of the series, is a great way to dig into the story and immerse yourself in this fascinating and frightening world.

Grades:

Story: fourstars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Cover
Buy from Amazon UK.
Art: fourandahalfstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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