There are two universal truths in today’s rapidly changing comics industry. The first is that Dog Man is the defining comic of our era. The second is that more people are reading manga and Webtoons (aka vertical scroll comics) than ever before. Therefore, we at Comics Beat have chosen to embark on a new venture: Beat’s Bizarre Adventure. Every week, we’ll have three writers recommend some of their favorite books and series from Japan, Korea, and elsewhere. This week, we have an archaeological adventure, mask-wearing sorcerers, and, of course, roosters.

spriggan cover


Writer: Hiroshi Takashige
Artist: Ryōji Minagawa
Translation: Deniz Amasya
Lettering: Brandon Bovia
Editor: J.P. Sullivan
Publisher: Seven Seas

Hiroshi Takashige and Ryōji Minagawa’s work on the 1980s series Spriggan is the Japanese equivalent of the Indiana Jones franchise. Like Indiana Jones, it’s a pulpy archaeology action adventure. The lead character, Yu Ominae, travels the globe searching for artifacts steeped in myth and legend. He’s frequently at odds with others trying to find these artifacts for personal gain.

Unlike Indiana Jones, Spriggan goes hard on both science fiction and geopolitics. An ancient civilization once ruled the Earth but died by their own hands. They left behind advanced machines and tablets, warning future generations to destroy them. Ominae works for ARCAM, an organization dedicated to containing these artifacts. He fights powerful foes while wearing his trusty orichalcum body suit.

Takashige’s scripts aren’t shy about their anti-American or anti-capitalist stances. The United States government is less than altruistic throughout the series, butting heads with ARCAM’s leaders. Ominae encounters villains from the Machine’s Platoon, a rogue group of US mercenaries turned into cyborgs with superpowers. The Trident Corporation sends out agents to look for artifacts so they can exploit them for corporate gain. There’s no shortage of danger for Ominae as he hunts for these alien artifacts. The likes of Noah’s Arc and the Holy Grail become potential weapons of mass destruction and a metaphor for nuclear annihilation.

Minagawa draws an action comic that is constantly in motion. His fight scenes leave you breathless. There’s a passion in his ability to depict machinery and weaponry that would make James Cameron jealous. But he’s also adept at drawing school scenes, where occasionally Yu Ominae has to make an appearance. Minagawa’s characters have expressive body language for physical comedy or for pushing the human form to commit violence.

Spriggan is a thoroughly 80s action manga. But no one makes manga like this anymore. Sometimes, you want to see a high school kid in high-powered body armor treasure hunting and taking on armies of cyborg mercenaries. D. Morris

dorohedoro cover


Writer/Artist: Q Hayashida
Translator: AltJapan, Inc.
Touch-Up and Lettering: Kelle Han
Design: Sam Elzway
Editor: Daniel Gillespie
Publisher: Viz Media

In the city of Hole, people live in squalor and slime. They are hunted by sorcerers, who make pacts with devils and wear scary masks. In the middle of it all is Kaiman, a man with a lizard head and no memory. A man in his throat is looking for the sorcerer that transformed him with smoke. Kaiman hasn’t found the culprit yet. That hasn’t stopped him from killing every sorcerer he knows.

Q Hayashida’s characters are tall and brawny as slasher villains. They butcher their way through the iron sheet and concrete backstreets of Hole. Pipes sprawl every which way while creeping flesh squirms in the walls. The skies roar with sorcerer ‘broomsticks’ spitting smoke. It is a city of violence, curiosity…and friendship.

The world of Dorohedoro is charming once you get to know it. Kaiman’s best friend, Nikaido, runs a dumpling shop. The annual revival and killing of zombies across the city is celebrated as a local holiday. There’s even a giant talking cockroach named Johnson that plays baseball. Shocking!

You learn to love the amoral sorcerers, too: loyal partners Shin and Noi, frustrated newbie Fujita, and the long-suffering Ebisu. Their boss, En, might be obsessed with mushrooms and his pet Kikurage, but he takes good care of his followers. Not to mention that they are all very attractive under their horrible masks.

Secrets bubble under the surface of Dorohedoro. What do the crosses over Kaiman’s eyes mean? Who is the man in his throat? Where do devils come from, and what do they want? The answers are doled out over twenty-three volumes of bare-knuckle fights and unimaginable horrors. At its core, though, this is a hangout book. You turn the page because you want to spend time with Kaiman and Nikaido in the dumpling shop.

I’ve held Dorohedoro close to my heart since I first discovered it in the pages of IKKI. It’s not for the squeamish, but I recommend trying it: Q Hayashida’s work combines filth, comedy, and genuine warmth in a way you won’t find anywhere else. Adam Wescott

rooster fighter cover

Rooster Fighter

Writer/Artist: Shu Sakuratani
Translation: Jonah Mayahara-Miller
Touch-up Art & Lettering: Annaliese ‘Ace’ Christman
Design: Julian [JR] Robinson
Editor: Mike Montesa
Publisher: Viz Media

Giant demons have emerged on Earth and are terrorizing cities, determined to exterminate all living beings. One of those living beings is Keiji. Keiji has a little sister, and he’s fond and protective of her as any brother would be. That’s why he’s out to kill the demon that took his sister’s life—and all the others that come his way. Did I mention that Keiji is a rooster?

Yes, it is as meme-y as it sounds. I learned about Rooster Fighter when it was licensed in Turkish, and I’ve been following it ever since. Keiji is like the ‘lone wanderer‘ in old American action movies: He’s tough with a soft spot buried under all those layers, always on the go, and chick(en)s dig him (he has a new girl at every port, and probably a couple of chicks waiting to hatch he doesn’t know of, so to speak).

The initial volumes are episodic stories of demon slaying. In the meantime, Keiji makes new connections, sometimes against his wishes, and the main arc of his revenge slowly progresses. The detailed backgrounds and realistic characters perfectly contrast Rooster Fighter’s absurd comedy. This series’ humor will not disappoint, especially if you’re a fan of Gintama.

I appreciate a comic where I’m not squirming in agony to know what happens next, but I still look forward to the continuation when it comes out. If you’re looking for a title to take your mind off everyday dread or a title featuring a fictional cock fighting demons and striking cool poses, Rooster Fighter will cut without a doubt. You can peek at Viz Media’s manga trailer here. Merve Giray

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