Review by Ian Keogh
The primary character over the early 20th Century Boys graphic novels was Kenji, convenience store owner, childhood deviser of super villain plans and aspirational musician who never made it. He disappeared during the events of the millennium and was blamed for them, but latterly the songs he sang that barely anyone heard at the time have somehow become public currency. In Everybody’s Song some of Kenji’s lyrics come to have a great bearing, especially on Kanna, his niece, now the leader of a small proactive revolutionary group.
Kanna has proved charismatic and practical, and has a level of respect throughout the murkier levels of society. When Naoki Urasawa first introduced the idea of her determination impressing Tokyo gang leaders it seemed a charming interlude, but he’s returned to that relationship a couple of times since, on each occasion reinforcing their respect, and they’re back again, this time with a phenomenal plan. However, reinforcing Kanna’s leadership qualities is a stubborn streak, and she’s still intent on following through with an uprising she knows is doomed to failure, believing a statement needs to be made.
Cross-Counter ended with a singer announcing himself as Yabuki Joe arriving at the gates of what the sinister Friend considers a base to protect Earth from alien invasion, a threat his organisation are whipping up. Well, Yabuki Joe is one charismatic individual, and he’s singing the song on everyone’s lips. Is he really Kenji as we want to believe? Otcho’s certainly come around to the idea that despite no-one having seen Kenji for almost twenty years, he may still be alive. One thing’s sure: a lot of people are suddenly interested in the whereabouts of a radio DJ.
Beautiful art and constant intrigue has been par for the course since 20th Century Boys began. That’s never changed and is once again supplied here. Urasawa also constantly wrong-foots his readers, so is he doing that again with the revelation on the final page? Don’t bet on finding out in The Man Who Came Back.