20th Century Boys Vol. 1

by Naoki Uraswaa

Publisher: Viz

Format: Softcover, 6 x 8, black and white, $12.99

ISBN: 978-1-59116-922-2

Reviewed by: Library Journal

As a boy, Kenji wanted to save the world. In college, he wanted to be a rock star. In his late thirties in the late 1990s, he runs the family convenience store while raising his missing sister's baby girl. When a local professor disappears, the man's house is marked with a strange symbol that nags strongly at the memories of Kenji and his childhood friends. When another old friend seemingly commits suicide after asking Kenji about that same symbol, Kenji decides to investigate. Unbeknown to him, the symbol is that of a burgeoning cult enthralled by an anonymous charismatic leader who might be behind a string of mysterious deaths—and might be a member of Kenji's childhood gang. Urusawa's (Monster; Pluto) naturalistic characterizations complement accomplished realistic artwork; his narrative deftly shifts from past to present, expertly building suspense and hinting that Kenji may get the chance to fulfill his childhood dream.

VERDICT A multiple award winner in Japan, Viz rates this 22-volume series for ages 16 and up; its nostalgia and real-life adult concerns (along with some sexuality) aim it toward adults.—Steve Raiteri