Violence Jack – Golden City

Continuing directly from the previous arc, we find Mondo and Tatsuma wandering the wasteland until they find a village. Unfortunately it’s the source of the gangsters they beat previously and they get beaten up for their troubles. The gangsters’ boss ends up recruiting them and when the village is attacked by tanks, they all flee to their gangster’s HQ/bath house.

For those watching Shin Mazinger, you may find the combination of gangsters + bath house rather familiar. Well that’ll be because Imagawa has borrowed them from Violence Jack. The leader, Tsubasa Nishikori, the bath house and her henchmen all come straight out of the Golden City arc of Violence Jack.

Here she is in Violence Jack:

And here she is in Shin Mazinger:

As best I can tell, the remainder of the arc involves various factions trying to get their hands on a safe full of gold bullion. The whole thing is a little to exposition heavy to understand just through the artwork. For instance, why is Jack apparently in league with the remnants of the Japanese army? What do Jack and the Female Jack talk about? Why is the Female Jack spying on the Slum King? Why does Slum King decide to send his army after Jack in the final pages?

Anyway, back to the stuff I can follow, Jack gets to the bullion, only to find Ryou Takama, the hero from the first two stories already in the process of stealing it.

He lets the young rebel take the gold and waits. Eventually, after various crosses and double crosses, Mondo, Tatsuma, and the gangsters arrive at the safe. This leads to a bazookas at ten paces duel between Mondo and Jack. Both take direct hits, but unfortunately for Mondo, only one of them is Violence Jack.

The gangsters then attack Jack, which goes about as well as you’d expect.

After despatching of all but Tatsuma, who is left holding Mondo’s remains and crying, the Slum King’s army arrive to put the hurting on our hero. With Jack severely wounded, Slum King faces him in one on one combat, first cutting his arm off, then stabbing him in the chest, before finally attempting to behead his enemy. Which leads to this ridiculously awesome panel!

After breaking Slum King’s sword with his teeth, Jack single handedly beats down the despot, punching him so hard it sets off another earthquake, crushing Slum King, his army, and Tatsuma. Only one man remains, Violence Jack. And we end with him walking into the sunset, arm in teeth.

The final battle sequences are awesome, positively bursting with manic energy.

And then Go Nagai seems to go and ignore this arc in all later arcs! In fact as soon as the next arc starts, Mondo and Tatsuma are alive once more. It made me wonder if this arc actually did come at this point, given that doesn’t seem to have original release dates for it, but all other evidence indicates that it does fall between the Gekitou! Mondo and Dragon Wind arcs.

I’m thinking this arc may have run in Weekly Shonen Magazine, while the other arcs at the time ran in Monthly Shonen Magazine. I say this because it looks like between Gekitou! Mondo and Dragon Wind, “Go Nagai Festival” ran for three months in Monthly Shonen Magazine in place of Violence Jack.

Elements of this arc play out in later arcs, in fact the next arc, Dragon Wind, feels like a fresh take on the final sequences between Jack and Slum King’s army, without the confrontation with Slum King himself. Given the themes of death and rebirth that start to become more explicit as the series progresses, it’s possible we can put all this down to the hell Jack puts Mondo and Tatsuma through in the last arc. Or that Jack (or someone else…) simply ressurected them. Either way, it’s perhaps the most confusing arc of the series.

Particularly as the gold bullion reappears in the epilogue to the series as a whole, and I can’t remember it’s recovery being dealt with again.

Never mind!

A couple of other notes arising from this chapter. First of all, this is where we get to see why Slum King always wears a mask – he doesn’t have a face of his own! I believe this gets explained in couple of arcs time, and then the metaphysical reason is revealed much later.

And talking of faces, this arc we see Mondo take on the devilish face that Nagai gives a lot of his characters, most famously Akira Fudo of Devilman fame. With Violence Jack meeting so many of these other characters who share some facial similarities to himself it takes on a whole different feeling than just being an expression of emotion (especially once you read the series grand finale).

It’s something that’s obviously hasn’t been lost on Yasuhiro Imagawa in his Shin Mazinger series, who not only has Koji Kabuto drawn in that style on occasion, but draws the connection between Mazinger Z and Mao Dante that’s kind of always been there bubbling beneath the surface (both feature a teenager controling a giant from inside the giant’s head). Not to mention using Z Mazinger’s Zeus, whose design has traits of both Violence Jack and Devilman in it.