Comic Picks By The Glick

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt vol. 4

September 25, 2017

A quick look through the archives tells me that I skipped reviewing vol. 3 of this series for some reason.  Let me tell you now that it continued the title’s upward trajectory with its focus on the Io Fleming-piloted Gundam versus Darryl Lorenz-piloted Psycho Zaku battle.  It was a thrilling fight that fittingly ended in a pyrrhic victory for Lorenz with Fleming and the rest of his shipmates captured by the Zeon forces.  While Fleming is beaten by his captors, he still manages to unsettle Lorenz by correctly pointing out that they both felt truly alive during their battle and that this rivalry won’t end until one of them has killed the other.

 

How do you top that?  Well, mangaka Yasuo Ohtagaki spends most of the first half of this volume winding down this stage of the story and getting all of the characters in place for the next.  While we get plenty of exciting mecha battles as the Zeon fortress A Baoa Qu is breached, you can also see the gears of the plot grinding away.  Some of this is predictable, with Fleming’s heroic escape, and others are intriguingly quirky.  Witness the rescue of the infamous J.J. Sexton and how it proves crucial to the next stage of the story, along with the return of another character I would’ve thought to be better off dead but am willing to see where Ohtagaki is going with this.

 

The problem with the transition between arcs here is that it takes a while for the next one to get up to speed.  A lot of time is spent catching up with the main cast on both sides of the One-Year War now that the Federation and Zeon have reached an uneasy peace.  The fact that these two sides are nominally at peace gives the thrust of the next arc some real drama as they each plan their own operations to infiltrate a religious order in Asia in order to secure some top-secret tech.  This does lead to Ohtagaki having to display some impressively ridiculous narrative hoop-jumping in order to get Fleming back on the Federation side of things.  That distraction aside, this next arc looks to be pretty thrilling once the Federation and Zeon’s plans for this infiltration inevitably fall apart and the fighting begins.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

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