Jaco the Galactic Patrolman TP
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Price: $9.99
Creator: Akira Toriyama
Format: 248 pgs., Black & White, 5"x7", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4215-6630-6
Age Rating: All Ages
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

This odd story is partially a prequel to the Dragon Ball stories.  In fact, it explains several things which were not clear in that long-running series.  The parts which make that connection are some of the strongest parts of this story.

Jaco is the weakest part of the story, unfortunately, and as the main character this is a problem.  He's given tremendous power and weapons by an interstellar peacekeeping force, for no apparent reason, and seems totally inept.  That wouldn't be so bad, but he claims to have the power to wipe out all of mankind.  He also says he's only used that power once before, and that was by accident.  This is not reassuring.  Comedy with a potentially high body count is one of those parts of Japanese humor which does not always translate well.

Of course, if Jaco weren't so inept, the entire Dragon Ball story wouldn't have happened, and the Earth would have either been much more peaceful or totally destroyed.  It's an interesting toss-up.

The secondary characters are much better.  The scientist that Jaco drags out of retirement, as well as a young woman who is the "stunt double" for a famous pop star both turn out to be interesting and likeable characters.  Also the Dragon Ball snippets will be a treat for fans of that saga.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.