"I don't tolerate impersonators."

*Links With Little Comment Dept: You know what every blog needs? PURE CINEMA.

(why yes, I did hear they're making another one of these...)

Golgo 13 Vol. 6 (of 13): One Minute Past Midnight

It should not be inferred from the above that Golgo’s penis is completely normal from a non-Asian perspective. Separate from physical dimensions is the is the issue of rigidity; in the regard, the Asian member is sometimes known as the ‘metallic cock,’ in supposed contrast to the less firm nature of the European erection.”

- from the redoubtable File 13

I think the best part of this volume isn’t just that the bonus section is devoted entirely to the title character’s sexual peccadilloes, it’s that this isn’t the first time the issue has come up. But while we may have learned all the way back in Vol. 1 that globetrotting super-assassin Duke Togo “[l]ures all the women in the world to the ‘height of ecstasy,’” we haven’t gotten two solid pages of charts and graphs breaking each and every one of the character’s sexual encounters down by time period, position, partner ethnicity, and other important factors (apparently, Golgo 13 has never once slept with a Japanese woman over the decades - escapism, you see). Many delightful illustrations from adventures throughout the years, most of which would be entirely unbelievable if not for the fact that the long-running Golgo 13 is one of the only comics in the world that can actually back every one of these random tidbits up with citations to actual storylines.

We’re still on Vol. 6, which means we have, by my estimate, about one more of creator Takao Saito’s favorite stories to go before we’re plunged into the readers’ choices, which I’ve been told tend to fall more along the lines of Duke disguising himself as a black man and showing his penis to the police of Mississippi. As opposed to the two stories in this volume, which often seem to be desperately restraining themselves from going too wild. There’s no need for restraint; this is Golgo 13! Let’s have him wrestle a giant eagle in the desert soon.

By far the most entertaining of this volume’s two stories is Zdrowas Maryjo (Story #179, December 1981), in which Duke is hired by the international Freemason conspiracy to track and kill the villains that have secretly kidnapped Pope John Paul II following a contemporaneous (and, of course, real) attempt on his life. Apparently the Pope has been switched with a sinister double, who’s bent on sabotaging an upcoming conference on interfaith reconciliation, so Duke winds up taking the place of a pious double of his own (groomed for that specific purpose for years by the Freemasons, who obviously think ahead) and brings world religions together via gunshots to the head. It’s the expected mix of bloody violence, briefings on historical topics, somewhat strained motives by geopolitical players, and panels of serious men in suits solemnly delivering dialogue like “We have to find him before the Christmas Mass.”

Less interesting is One Minute Past Midnight (Story #377, September 1998), which is one of the series off-and-on attempts at mostly serious spy melodrama, this time concerning the affairs of agents and double-agents left out in the world after the close of the Cold War. Basically, a Soviet defector has evaded his chaperones on a quest to murder an ex-CIA on death row for the crime of orchestrating his brother’s death. “You know what he’s capable of. He’ll fly a plane filled with Semtex into that prison if he thought it would make absolutely sure.” Obviously, Duke gets involved for a somewhat predictable surprise ending that might have landed better if the mechanics of Duke’s plan were explained before the end of the story.

The infodumps are thicker than usual here, though Saito and Co. (as usual, Golgo 13 is largely constructed by teams of anonymous individuals working collectively as Saito Production) do manage a pretty great sequence with a nervous Georgia official giving reporters a tour of their lethal injection facilities (“That there is for ventilation. Ah, on occasion there will be an incontinent incident on the part of the prisoner…”) in between bouts of lukewarm espionage opera. Oh, for an acid trip or something!

I mean, it’s lovely that we’re getting this much Golgo 13 in the US, but the bonus section has been tempting us with treats that Saito doesn’t seem entirely willing to give us himself. Next volume ought to be the switchover (13 of his, 13 of theirs in total), and it’s probably come right in time. Study is fine, but it’s time for a little less work and a little more play.