Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump (2013)
Published in U.S. by VIZ Media (2015)
Story and Art by Akira Toriyama
Summary: Retired scientist Omori lives alone on a deserted island while continuing his research into time-travel. His quiet life is interrupted when galactic patrolman Jaco crash-lands and decides to move in with him. This agent from space claims to be an elite, but sometimes it can be a little hard to believe. Can Jaco get along with the old man long enough to save the Earth from a dangerous threat? [From the back of the book.]
Review: Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is a prequel to the Dragon Ball manga and takes place in the days leading up to Goku’s first arrival on the planet Earth as a baby. Ultimately with all extra stories like this, one could make the argument of whether we needed to have an official prequel to Dragon Ball but really, after reading this, why would you want to? This, much like a lot of Toriyama’s works is a helluva lot of fun and because it harkens back to the days of Dragon Ball (rather than Z) when Goku was a kid it easily invokes that blended comedy of fun and innocence that Toriyama is really good at doing.
Jaco as a character burst onto the big screen with Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ which is wear I saw him for the first time and I immediately fell in love. I think he’s such a fun guy who’s a total loser at his job but is completely oblivious to it and tries his hardest nonetheless. As a Galactic Patrolman, he’s obviously a parody off of the Green Lantern Corp and Nova Corp of Marvel and DC Comics respectably. Seeing as how Goku is a parody of Superman, I would imagine the Patrolmen are meant to be closer to the GL Corp but really there are elements of both that are shown here.
Collected as a single volume, this short series focuses on Jaco’s first trip to Earth and how he gets stuck on a small island with an old man who at first is very reluctant to help him fix his ship. Thankfully Toriyama is smart enough to use this as a means of keeping the two together because Jaco’s ship is from outer space and therefore its components are completely different from what you’d see here on Earth. So there’s only so much the old man, named Omori, can do.
Though the scale of the story is small, truly it’s mostly about trying to get Jaco’s ship fixed, later on other story elements are introduced such as a super smart girl named Tights who’s planning to go on a rocket ship in place of a pop idol in order to “sing in space” – a ship that we learn is doomed to crash and burn. There’s also the fact that Jaco is there to monitor Goku’s arrival on the planet so that he can kill him, however this is mostly played up for gags later because that’s pretty dark when you start to think about it.
Toriyama is really good at making sure everything feels organic to the flow of the story even with the over the top nature of the story itself and the gags within. There’s plenty of other colorful characters here as well, from “well trained soldiers” that are dressed as ninjas, to even appearances from the Brief’s family. I.E. Bulma and her family in which we get to see Bulma as a little girl and she is just adorable and spunky as ever.
One major problem I did have with Jaco however is with the introduction of Tights, who I really like, we learn that she’s the daughter of Dr. Briefs and thus the older sister of Bulma. And I know Toriyama is well known for his silly retcons but we never hear once throughout the entirety of Dragon Ball (or Z if you watch the anime) that she has an older sister. And we see her family multiple times. I would have enjoyed it much better if she was a niece or a cousin or something, and being smart ran in the extended family as well not just the immediate. It would have been a far nice addition rather than her being Bulma’s now-existent sister.
We also get at the end of the book a special chapter that tells a different perspective on the origin of Goku and his father Bardock (Burdock in the official manga translation, however I’ve always known him as Bardock so we’re going with that). This technically renders the Bardock: Father of Goku anime special non-canon but I will always enjoy that story nonetheless. Here, Bardock, like many other Saiyans, are called back to planet Vegeta by Frieza who secretly plans to exterminate them.
Bardock senses something is very wrong and send his son off to Earth in hopes that he will survive the race if something does indeed happen. While this is a fun little story, one that paints Bardock in a much more caring light for his sons more so than what the anime showed him to be, I still prefer the story of Father of Goku as that version shows Bardock in a more heroic light. If we could just have a full Bardock story that marries the two I would be very happy about that.
This extra chapter also marks the first ever appearance of Goku’s mom, Gi-ne who’s rather cute and homely. Although it’s strange seeing a Saiyan who isn’t a ruthless and blood thirsty warrior. That I was actually glad for. I’m glad we finally got to meet Goku’s mom, and again if we get a full story featuring her I would so immensely excited. Another highlight is that we get to see a young Raditz fighting alongside a young Vegeta. A nice little bit of continuity there.
Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is honestly a wonderful addition to the Dragon Ball universe with some unneeded retcons but more so expansions to continuity that doesn’t hinder what has come before but definitely adds some fun to it. Toriyama’s art is great as well. More cartoony, not as detailed as Dragon Ball, but that’s just how he likes it. Toriyama works best when being able to invoke his natural comedy as a gag artist in action stories. Jaco is a great example of this.
And I highly suggest you seek it out.
Final Score: 4.5 Galactic Patrolmen out of 5
Derrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.
You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net