Crusher Joe
Haruka Takachiho, Fujihiko Hosono

Crusher Joe is the story of a group of space mercenaries, known as crushers, led by Joe, who immediately comes across as a dashing space cowboy. Set in the far-flung future (circa 2160), Joe and his crew take on jobs ranging from investigation to rescue to protection services. The characters include: the traditional hero Joe, who has look and feel of a variety of old-school anime and manga heroes; Ricky, the peppy, (Batman and) Robin-like sidekick without being corny; Alfin, the always-having-a-crush-on-Joe female of the cast; and Talos, the Frankenstein-esque cyborg of the team.

Artistically, Crusher Joe immediately illicits serious nostalgia in it's style. Considering that the original printing of this series of tales was circa 1979, the feeling is understandable. While the bulk of the art is not over-detailed, like a Masamune Shirow tome, it keeps a consistency that tells the swiftly paced tales in a good way. When reading this, you won't help but feel transported back to the old-school of manga and anime, before it even thought about being mainstream. The characters all carry their personality within the way they're illustrated. To be honest, out of the characters, I found myself drawn to the stoically cool Talos, who holds a monolithic presence, even among the chaos.

Humor is littered through the series, not just in comments but in the way characters react to each other. Numerous times, the looks characters give each other in reaction offer up a good chuckle.

The stories themselves are reminiscent of the old Buck Rogers/space cowboy flair. There are twists and turns and the events themselves move at a quick pace. There's no stopping for some introspective internal dialog. When you read Crusher Joe, you get action and general space swashbuckling with enough twists to keep the plots from feeling formulaic. On the downside, character development is at a fair minimum.

On the whole, Crusher Joe is a good shot of nostalgia for those who still enjoy watching Robotech, Spaceketeers and Star Blazers. If you're spoiled by modern manga, you might be taken aback by this volume. Old-school fans should give this a read for the good time that it provides.

For more information on how purchase this title, head over to Studio Ironcat's website.

- - Kinderfeld

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