If the biggest fantasists are those who, at any particular time, find themselves on society’s lowest rung, then the child bullied at school must be the greatest fantasist of all. The number of victims of bullying who have harboured dreams of vicious revenge, possibly protected only by their inability to carry out such violent fantasies, must be high.
Hiro is one such victim. Having found himself in an intolerable situation with school bullies he has withdrawn from society, not attending school for six months and leaving his family at a total loss as to what to do with him.
However, when he successfully applies online for a futuristic suit called JUNK, which provides him with the superpowers he needs to get his own back, he finds himself in a position to regain his self respect in a violent and destructive way.
The story is something of a moral tale, but Hiro is far too deeply involved in his fantasy to notice the problem with his behaviour, and creates situations that have a dramatic impact on his life. Perhaps even more bizarrely, once he dons the suit he realises that he isn’t the only JUNK out there, and that others may not share his interest in violent revenge.
It’s a multi-layered book. Hiro is a complex creature, a pitiful boy who removes any hope of empathy by turning from victim to oppressor the minute he gets the opportunity. Perhaps it’s justified (or at least excusable) given his previous treatment, and at this stage at least, writer and artist Kia Asamiya is offering little judgement on the situation to guide the reader.
It’s an interesting spin on the superhero genre, with the Japanese style offering a refreshing alternative take on the proceedings: the pace is much slower than we see in most Western action comics; the characters remain stereotypical but there’s a little more depth and characterisation in there; and the black and white art is brooding and dramatic. First timers to manga shouldn’t find it a difficult introduction and with Asamiya already having scored some kudos in Western comics, with drawing gigs on Batman and X-Men, it’s a good place to start if your comic reading habits fancy heading east without getting too exotic.