Dragon Ball Z #1
Viz Comics (1998)
originally published by Shueisha (1985) for Bird Studio
“The Mysterious Warrior From Space” & “Kakarrot”
WRITER/ARTIST: Akira Toriyama
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Gerald Jones
TRANSLATION: Mari Morimoto
TOUCH-UP ART/LETTERER: Wayne Truman
EDITOR: Trish Ledouz
Five years have passed since the events adapted into the original Dragon Ball anime (although in Japan this comic was STILL just called Dragon Ball, with the anime noting the tonal shift by adding “Z” to it). Goku is now a father to little Gohan (named after Goku’s grandfather), whom he introduces to his friends Roshi, Bulma, and Kuririn (people who only know the English dub know him as Krillin, which is what my head and tongue say it is and that’s what I’m calling him from here out–sorry) as they gather for a reunion. The meeting is interrupted by an alien who calls Goku “Kakarrot” and has a power level that even worries Piccolo. He also has the same tail Goku used to have and Gohan has now.
What they got right: By putting two chapters (the comic was originally distributed in an anthology magazine, like US sci-fi used to do with prose magazines) into one comic you get a full-length comic in the US publishing style. The villain is introduced well and if you didn’t follow the comic from the beginning you still get enough details to check in when the villain arrives.
What they got wrong: Which is a good thing. For some reason (actually we can all guess why) Viz released Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z at the same time, thus ruining the introductions of Launch, Chi-Chi, and Piccolo. I know this happened with the anime but there were reasons I also don’t know about, and now both series are available in English to follow properly before ignoring GT and going right to the current new show, Dragon Ball Super. At the time things are getting spoiled. Also, I forget if they actually did release a normal “left-to-right” printing and I just decided to try the Japanese way (manga purists like it unflipped and are thankfully less annoying than the anime purists) but reading “right-to-left” is counter-intuitive for me because I’m so used to reading comics one way. If there was a “left-to-right” printing this is my stupid move but if not, I can see where that would cost Viz more money to publish but I would have preferred flipped.
Recommendation: I don’t know if this is still available anywhere but start with Dragon Ball (even though the action doesn’t really heat up until the story arcs published in the US as Z) and get a better taste of this world. But it is a fun manga that’s worth checking out.