Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Volume thirteen of Astro Boy features three adventures personally selected by Osamu Tezuka from two decades of Astro Boy comics, translated by Frederick L. Schodt. In this volume: ‘Zolomon’s Jewels’ (1967), ‘Shootout in the Alps’ (1956); and ‘The Lying Robot’ (1964).
‘Zolomon’s Jewels’ is the first and longest story in this volume, involving a mysterious gemstone called The Teardrop of Sirius. Its millionaire owner Kaneyama and his son Hikaru are desperately trying to safeguard the gem from the giant robot Zolomon who is searching for it. Despite his initial misgivings Astro Boy becomes part of a team of four robots along with Nova, L-44 and Strobo, trying to prevent the gem from being taken. There is far more to this case than initially meets the eye and that turns out to be the theme of this story: everything Astro Boy encounters is not what it first appears to be. In typically brilliant Tezuka style, this is just the beginning of a long trail of events. There are fights, revelations and sacrifices as the life and death complications and plot twists pile up to a gigantically cosmic conclusion.
In ‘Shootout in the Alps’, Astro Boy is envious of the human ability to feel emotions. Professor Ochanomizu gives him an artificial heart to appreciate music, look at paintings and enjoy beautiful scenery, but along with the positive emotions come a few negative ones. Can Astro still be an effective hero if he is scared of loud noises and dangerous-looking crooks?
‘The Lying Robot’ is a short tale about a mechanical boy programmed to always say the opposite of what is true. Every encounter he has with people leads to disaster but there is a sadly logical reason for this robot’s programming and Astro gets to the bottom of it.
This is another solid collection of classic stories and it ends with a three-page strip by Tezuka explaining more about ‘Astro Boy’s origins and history’, to be continued in the next volume.