Monster 1 by Naoki Urasawa: A

From the back cover:
An ice-cold killer is on the loose, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him! Conspiracies, serial murders, and a scathing indictment of hospital politics are all masterfully woven together in this compelling manga thriller. Tenma risks his promising medical career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy. Unbeknownst to him, this child is destined for a terrible fate. Who could have known that Tenma would create a monster!

Wow, this is good. I knew the essential plot of this first volume going into it, but the storytelling and pacing are so engrossing that even expecting certain things, I was never bored. Storywise, my only complaint would be that the instigators of the hospital politics are rather over the top and a little two-dimensional. Presumably, said politics won’t be a big concern of Tenma’s after this volume, however.

Urasawa has reportedly requested that Viz finish releasing Monster before releasing another of his series, contending that his art has improved and he wants the titles to be released chronologically. I can see what he’s talking about. In this volume, I’d sum up the style as “Crazy Noses and Eyebrows!” Nearly everyone has ’em. Tenma himself has a variety of expressions, but some of the other characters seem to just get one, which is then used multiple times. There are also a couple of panels early on where close-ups of Tenma’s extremely high-maintenance girlfriend look nearly identical.

Despite the distracting art and small element of cheese, there’s enough really good stuff here that I can state that I will definitely be continuing with this series until its conclusion.

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