Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: Lawman S

Akihiro Itoh is best known for his Geobreeders series, but he has put out a number of one-shots as well, including Blue Gale and Gallop. One more one-shot was Lawman, initially released in 1995, and then reprinted as Lawman S in 2005. I originally read Lawman years ago, but that was before I decided to put together the Geobreeders database. So, when I recently found Lawman S at Book Off for 100 yen, I figured I might as well write up a short description of the book.

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.
From top right going clockwise: Ramen shop girl, dirty cop, Yazuka assassin, thief.)

Lawman S, by Akihiro Itoh, Grade: B
The Lawman is Shouzou Irie, the scumbag from Geobreeders. Here, though, he's a ruthless, cunning, careful Finance Ministry agent. The first story pretty much sets the scene for the others.

Irie shows up at a U.S. base in Japan and wreaks havoc by causing a helicopter to crash, standing on a landing pad with a laser pointer, and walking into an arms storehouse without clearance. Turns out though that he's investigating a possible domestic terrorism case being led by one of the camp leader's subordinates. When the subordinate initiates his coup, the laser-triggered explosives that Irie planted earlier brings the plot to a crashing halt. While also demolishing the majority of the base. Irie enjoys handing out his business cards, and at one point, the calculated placement of the cards in his shirt pocket saves him from a bullet from the subordinate.

In "Lawmans", Irie screws up a hostage standoff, but captures the villain by dropping a powerline transformer can on him. The villain identifies his accomplice, who looks strangely like Irie, causing him to be arrested. The villain gets out on bond and meets up with his partners for a gun pickup, and one of his real accomplices is the female cop on the case. Irie gets released by the dirty cop's partner and blows up a parking lot as part of the plan to bring everyone to justice. Great action - silly story.

The third chapter, "Lawman goes to North", finds Irie stuck in a small town during a layover due to heavy snowfall, caught between a ramen shop owner and the yakuza gang trying to shut her down. The yakuza's enforcer is Yoshioka, a female assassin willing to shoot her own boss in order to put Irie in his place. The story builds up to a showdown between Irie, Yoshioka, and the ramen shop's former yakuza cook.

"Lawman and the Thief" is treated as an epilogue. Irie is riding in the back of a car driven by Gene Hackman and his partner, Clint Eastwood. All three of them are chasing after some bank robbers, but the other two keep asking why Irie is in the car. In an abandoned house nearby, the robbers, a guy and his girlfriend, are having sex while listening to the news. The reporter announces the robbery and that the bank president's daughter had been kidnapped during it. Hackman refuses to turn on the headlights at night to keep the robbers from knowing that they're approaching, and crashes the car into a tree. Thus alerted, the robbers open fire on the cops but get cut down. Clint goes to fix the car, while Hackman discovers the hostage and tries to comfort her. Problem is that the girl masterminded the whole thing and her banker father wants her punished. She shoots down Hackman before Irie drops her. Irie walks past the car and Clint asks where his partner and the girl are. Irie blows up the car and Eastwood, while deciding to walk back to the office.

"Rouman" (Lawman) is a weird little one-off featuring an umbrella-wielding samurai defending a kimono-clad woman from gangsters that resemble Irie. All but one of the gangsters gets eliminated, and the remaining one asks what the samurai is going to do with the guy he's protecting. Realizing that the "victim" is a transvestite, the samurai dumps "her" and leaves. In the last panel, the samurai and the woman are in a theater watching the action that just played, trying to figure out what's going on.

Two American soldiers stumble into an old building late at night, in "Moon on Ice". They find a girl in bloody clothes lying on the floor, but she gets up and seems to be unharmed. They're being attacked by monsters, but only one of them is doing any damage with his rifle. They keep complaining that this isn't what they signed up for. The two guys get separated, and one is killed by a shadowy figure. The girl starts talking about the moon and its powers through history. The remaining soldier roughs her up and tells her to be quiet. They hear a helicopter and the soldier pushes the girl outside at gunpoint, but the chopper is too far away to notice them. The girl says that they should have stayed inside until dawn, and the grunt shoots her down yelling that he'd told her to shut up. The girl recovers and turns into a werewolf as she's joined by the rest of her pack, adding that only silver bullets can hurt them, and those are in the other gun.

Finally, we have "Lawmen", a silly 7-page gag set in the Welfare Ministry, with a new receptionist talking to Kotoi. Irie seems to be going past them a few too many times to be reasonable. Finally, an elevator opens and 9 Irie's walk out, to the receptionist's horror.

Following "Rouman", there's a two-page commentary by Itou on the preceding chapters. Basically, it's his take on the stories he'd drawn 10 years earlier.

Summary: Lawman S is a reprinting of the original Lawman, and it tells the tales of an investigator for the Finance Ministry, up against incredible odds and in situations that always involve massive shoot-outs. The Lawman wins, but occasionally that's not a good thing. Lots of action, and artwork that's not quite up to the level of Geobreeders. Some simulated sex in one of the stories, but nothing too graphic. Recommended if you like Itou's other works.

No comments: