Back when I first read this, Beast King felt like the last gasp of Violence Jack as being shocking for shock’s sake. Suitably, it’s a direct follow up to Hell City Kanto (adapted as Evil Town in the OAVs) the last chapter that I found truly shocking. However going back again to write about this chapter, it didn’t seem quite as shocking. I’m not sure if that means I’ve been desensitised to phallic tiger tongues and beheadings, or if it was just the jumbled way it was arranged in the collections I read.
In addition to the return of Aira Mu from God Mazinger, the main source for this chapter comes from King Bomber (1976). As best as I can tell it involved teen drummer Shingo Hibiki who merges with the golden African statue, King Bomber to defeat his enemies. It’s probably a lot more complicated than that, the villain here seems named after a civilisation that King Bomber had destroyed earlier in history in his own manga.
Really simple to sum up this time, as Jack is barely in it, and that means we don’t get lengthy speeches or random shaming of the Slum King to confuse matters. The androgynous, abused, frequently naked, blonde waif Shingo Hibiki wanders into a jungle full of wild animals that escaped the zoo after the Great Kanto Earthquake.
Meanwhile, we meet the villain of the piece, Kibara. Who is, of course, an evil zoo keeper wearing a crocodile’s head as a hat. He’s trained animals to kill man, and is upset that strangers have arrived in his jungle. Not Shingo, but Aira Mu and her followers. Who, Shingo happens to come across when both decide to bathe at the same time. Aira almost comes a cropper at the hands of a wild tiger, but Shingo’s innate animal empathy saves her.
He returns with her to her settlement, where they have made a wooden statue of their saviour, Violence Jack that they call King Bomber. Kibara meanwhile is tearing through the forest hunting for Aira Mu. Sensing danger, Jack turns into his phoenix form and flies off.
If only his danger sense was a little more prompt…
The village is massacred and the survivors taken to Kibara’s camp to be tortured. Shingo was left behind and plead for the statue of King Bomber to rescue Aira. At which point Jack arrives and the pair merge into the statue, and Jack raises the tiger Shingo befriended from the dead (though it appears he’s just putting part of his essence into it’s body).
And the pair go and rescue Aira in the bloodiest way possible.
Unfortunately, the chapter seems to run out of pages and the final fight between Jack and Kibara happens off panel. All we get is Aira discovering Kibara dead, and Shingo lying in the broken shards of the King Bomber statue. A disappointing ending considering some of the sequences of carnage that other chapters have had.
Thankfully the next chapter is perhaps my favourite and full of some utterly genius moments of (re-)invention