JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2 – Battle Tendency Volume 1 is set in New York in 1938 and introduces Joseph Joestar, the grandson of Jonathan Joestar.
Early on in the volume, the focus is on developing the character of Joseph Joestar, and it quickly becomes apparent that he’s nothing like his grandfather. Jonathan was always the gentleman, while Joseph always seems ready to pick a fight and expresses a in flipping up women’s skirts. About the only thing Joseph fears is his grandmother, Erina, who has become a tougher woman in her later years.
It was actually kind of sad to find out what happened to Erina in the intervening years between the end of Part 1 – Phantom Blood and where this volume begins. Not only did she lose Jonathan, her son and her daughter-in-law also perished. Joseph is one of the few family members she has left, so it’s not surprising that she is protective of him and can be tough with him when she needs to be.
When Joseph and Erina first move to New York, Joseph encounters and befriends a young black man named Smokey. I appreciated the depiction of racism and how both Joseph and Erina don’t subscribe to the racist philosophies that would have existed during that time period. I thought that Araki including this in the story was a nice touch.
Speedwagon, an old friend of Jonathan Joestar’s, is an important part of the story. He makes a shocking discovery while he is part of an expedition in Mexico. This discovery involves betrayal by an old friend and the introduction of this series’ new enemy, the Pillar Men. Joseph finds himself entangled in this situation when a rumor reaches him that Speedwagon was killed in Mexico. When Joseph travels to that country to investigate, he finds himself coming face to face with a group of Nazis who are stationed at a base there.
Not surprisingly, the Nazis were trying to experiment on one of the Pillar Men without truly understanding the ramifications. When the Pillar Man gains enough strength to begin attacking, it leads to an epic battle between Joseph and the Pillar Man. But during this section of the volume, it seems that Joseph has started to grow up, at least a little. He may not like the Nazis that he’s forced to fight beside, but he does come to respect one of them by the end.
Near the end of the volume, it’s made clear that there are more Pillar Men out there, so this should be the driving force for the remainder of Battle Tendency. I expect we’ll be seeing Joseph going after the remaining Pillar Men in order to save the world from their destructive power.
When it comes to the art, I have to say that I felt that Araki made Joseph’s design a little too similar to Jonathan’s. The main thing that allows the reader to tell them apart is the fact that Joseph wears very different clothing. Other than that, they look so similar it’s almost eerie. But the quality of Araki’s artwork hasn’t declined between Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency, and it continues to engage readers and draw them into the story.
Readers who have enjoyed the Phantom Blood arc should also enjoy JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2 – Battle Tendency Volume 1. Even though this story may be set nearly 50 years later, it includes many of the elements that defined Phantom Blood arc, as well as the action and fight scenes that fans have come to expect from the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media