PANDORA: A DEATH JUNIOR MANGA
Written and Drawn by Hai
Published by Seven Seas Entertainment
The life of Pandora, Death Junior’s girlfriend, takes a turn for the strange one afternoon while the pair and their friends are playing near a local quarry. Pandora falls down into the pit and discovers a doorway that takes her far away from her friends. Not distance far… instead, she finds herself at high school age and in a future where she is believed dead from the accident in the quarry. Even odder, though all of the rest of her friends remember her and are glad to see her, Junior claims not to know her at all. And his over-protective girlfriend Meg is none-too-pleased to have Pandora back in the picture… even though she needs Pandora a bit more than she’s letting on. Now time is running out for Pandora to return to the past, prevent this future from occurring, and stop Meg’s evil plans from coming to fruition.
PANDORA is something of an oddity in the comics market; there have been two volumes of traditional graphic novels featuring the Death Jr. characters published through Image Comics, and to my knowledge they could still produce more. So seeing a second company deliver a book featuring the characters is very unusual. However, this turns out to be a very smart idea: Seven Seas is a manga company, this is a manga book, and it would have been inappropriate from a mainstream comic publisher. The experts were allowed to handle this, and they handle it quite well.
Hai’s story is, to be honest, a very common trope in speculative fiction dealing with time travel: prevent a terrible future from happening. And with that, his take on the characters’ fates in Pandora’s jump isn’t all that shocking or freaky, even considering how Junior has turned out. He’s been established as a gullible sap easily used by people with bad intent when Pandora isn’t around to keep him out of trouble. But that doesn’t make this a bad book by any stretch; it just makes it a little less imaginative as I would have liked.
That said, Hai does execute his story with good pace and fun character bits, and he does a very solid job of keeping everyone within their personality. The art is terrific, and the book looks great. It matches up with any manga on the stands, and unlike many OEL manga books, it’s actually done in right-to-left format. That alone gives it bonus points in my eyes.
PANDORA’s story is capped off with a very charming ending, one that feels earned and fair. I liked this book enough that I’d love to see more. This set of characters is strong enough to keep going ahead with more mangas, whether we’re also getting traditional comics with them or not.