Golgo 13 Vol. 5: Wiseguy

Secret agent man Duke Togo, a.k.a. Golgo 13, stars in the tightly wound action thriller Wiseguy.

(Viz Signature) 192 pages B&W; $9.99

(W/A: Takao Saito)


Who's killed more baddies, bedded more ladies and smoked a whole lot more thin brown cigars than James Bond? That would be Golgo 13, the cool-as-ice Japanese assassin-for-hire who's been taking care of business for almost 40 years.


Takao Saito's Golgo 13, aka Duke Togo, is the star of a long-running manga, anime and video-game franchise in Japan, several of which have made the jump to American shores (including two animated movies, The Professional: Golgo 13 and Golgo 13: Queen Bee, and a pair of games for the NES). Viz is reprinting some of the classic Golgo 13 tales in English in intimately sized 5"x7.5" trade paperbacks as a sort of Golgo 13's greatest hits.


Volume 5 of the new series, Wiseguy, is dependably dark, complex, suspenseful and masculine ("Comics for guys who like comics," if you will). The first of two stories, "Way of the Wiseguy" (1991), drops Golgo 13 into the middle of a Mafia turf war. The absorbing tale of secret allegiances features a crooked Jewish U.S. senator and a climactic scene involving a very precise ricocheting bullet-shot. The story, like a good action film, winds tighter and tighter until the tension bursts in a big finish. In fact, many of the Golgo 13 stories have a cinematic flair, and seem ready-made for the silver screen.


The only drawback to the story is something that a number of the later Golgo 13 tales are apparently guilty of — Golgo himself first appears on page 70 of a 94-page story. Why do we have to wait so long to finally get a glimpse of the bad mofo who's punching the tickets?


"Germany is One" (1990) gives us more of Golgo, thankfully, and a clever plot device involving a role-playing game similar to Risk or Diplomacy. The Berlin Wall is about to come down. A group of high-ranking European politicos dicker over the fate of the new Germany. The rash moves they make in the role-playing game are mirrored by their hasty decisions in the real world. One of those hasty decisions, hiring Golgo 13 to dispatch with a meddling businessman, comes back to haunt the man who took out the contract.


The Golgo 13 stories are well-plotted, satisfying action yarns with crisp, utilitarian illustrations. As soon as you see Duke Togo with his beetle-brows, 70's-mack sideburns, slim cigar and white suit, you can bet you're in for a good ride.

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