The bizarre adventure into the heart of gothic darkness continues with the second volume of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s first part, Phantom Blood. While the first volume introduced us into the bizarre domain that is the world of Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando, volume 2 is more focused on paving the pathway for their fated collision.
It is evident from the very first chapter of Phantom Blood that this story is going to end in one way and one way only, with Jonathan and Dio duking it out in mortal combat. After Dio had put Jonathan’s father out of commission permanently in the last volume, Jonathan is trying to go on with his life. Eventually Jonathan comes to meet Zeppelli an eccentric man who informs him of Dio’s survival and intentions of building an undead army to conquer the world. Johnathan isn’t having none of that of course and after learning the ancient art of Hamon (or Ripple if you are that way inclinced) he sets out with Zeppelli and the downright hilarious Speedwagon.
This volume is where the battles truly begin as JoJo is placed up against legitimate competition and learns to fight right and proper. The series immediately distinguishes itself from other fighting shonen series with its deadset bizarre battles, pun intended. One of the things that sets JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure apart from the rest of Shonen Jump’s lengthy line-up of fighting manga is that it’s author Araki is fixated on the little details, even the ones that really don’t matter. It adds colour to an otherwise simple battle, all the while going to ridiculous extremes to explain something in the most roundabout and needlessly intricate way.
It is the finer details that really makes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure such a special read. The way in which a zombie vampire can infiltrate Jonathan’s horse drawn carriage by beheading the horse, hiding in the crevasse of its neck manipulating the horses body with its nervous system, reattaching the head and pretending to play along as the horse all the while to later ambush Jonathan is both ridiculously gruesome and oddly fascinating in its detail. How Araki comes up with such complex and seemingly unthinkable plot points is beyond me, but without it JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure wouldn’t be half as fun as it is.
This volume ends yet again on a cliffhanger, leaving us with yet another volume to go until we reach the fated resolution for Jonathan and Dio. Viz Media are doing a fantastic job with these releases and the translation work is some of their finest. The hardcover compendiums with newly contributed art from Araki himself are a real collector’s item for fans of the series and one hell of a way to jump on board this insane ride that they call JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.