Review by Frank Plowright
Ultraman is the name applied to giant robots who protect Earth from giant monsters. The legend goes that they disappeared after sacrificing themselves in one last desperate effort, transferring all their power to the Ultraman Tiga. In 2049 Earth is a very different place, nations co-existing in peace, not least due to the founding of the Terrestrial Peacekeeping Commission, but even the TPC is at a loss to explain the inexplicable. An elite team known as GUTS (Global Unlimited Task Squad) is put together to investigate, and if they can’t locate Tiga in time, Earth will again be over-run by monsters.
Writer Tony Wong is adapting episodes of an Ultraman TV show, which is partly why Return of the Warrior moves along at a tremendous pace. Barely has the reader taken in one staggering event than another bombshell is dropped, but despite that we’re halfway through the book before Tiga actually returns. Once he turns up, though, he sets about the monsters with a vengeance.
The downside of that pace is that there’s little plot to Return of the Warrior, the action taking precedence above all else and those sequences occupying anything up to twenty pages at a time. Khoo Fuk Lung choreographs these battles with some care, but such is the complicated design of both monsters and Ultraman, it’s often difficult to make out what’s going on, especially on an opening montage. Most of the pages are coloured linework, but as seen on the sample art, Lung will slip in random painted panels.
It falls to a GUTS member named Daigo to take control of Tiga, constantly updated during battles by the Ultramen from another dimension as to the capabilities of the body he now controls. This is dripped in piecemeal by Wong (or the writer of the shows he adapts), and the result is a very convenient solution every time Tiga seems in trouble. The one limitation is that Tiga can apparently only remain in Earth’s atmosphere for brief spells, this as arbitrary as so much else about Return of the Warrior.
The fourth episode briefly breaks the monotony, via the GUTS team having to deal with small monsters instead of a giant creature, but by the end it’s Tiga vs another giant monster. The frenetic pace, big panels and prolonged action will appeal to children, but anyone else will need something more. With Past Sins, Future Dangers, Wong and Lung begin creating original stories, so perhaps improvement is on the horizon.