Title: Trigun Maximum
Genre: Action, Drama
Artist: Yasuhiro Nightow
Publisher: Shonen Gahosha (JP), Dark Horse (US)
Serialized in: Young King Ours
Translation: Justin Burns
Trigun Maximum picks up two years after the events in the original Trigun manga, and Dark Horse’s jam packed 600 page omnibus of the first three volumes serve as a wild introduction to those uninitiated to the franchise and those more familiar. Vash the Stampede looks to be a man with a reputation, with bounties on his head and insurance adjusters on his tail. After blowing a gigantic crater into the moon two years ago, Vash decides to try and live a quiet, peaceful life. It doesn’t take long for his past to catch up with him though, and when Vash crosses paths with the gigantic cross and gun totin’ priest Wolfwood they find themselves swept in journey to right both of their wrongs.
Jumping into Trigun Maximum without prior knowledge of the original Trigun is a bit like walking into a crowded room where everyone already knows one another; you know you’re probably missing out on all the inside jokes, but you still try to wiggle your way into the know. As a newbie the near-constant action and thick sketchy art may be the original draw, but you stay to learn about the characters. It’s quick to see why Vash is well-loved and the series a classic; Vash has two sides—a goofy loveable side, and a side that scares those that only know him by name. The first of the three volumes in this omnibus shows how precarious Vash’s delicate balancing act actually is. Now living as Eriks with a young girl named Lina, Vash is forced fight when Lina is kidnapped. Joining the fight is the traveling priest Nicholas D. Wolfwood, whose large cross also happens to double as a gun. Vash and Wolfwood makes quick business of their opponents, but Wolfwood delivers some disturbing news; Vash’s brother Knives is back, and is becoming more and more of a threat as the days pass. What follows in the latter half of this first omnibus is a whirlwind of action as both Vash and Wolfwood run into old enemies and make new ones.
As Vash and Wolfwood set out to take down Knives, my one gripe with the series surfaces; it sometimes feels as though Vash simply faces one bad guy after another with an occasional chapter break to give a glimpse into our two main men’s respective pasts and their conflicting feelings about their penchant for violence. As I reached the end of the volume, I found that it was hard to recall all the specific bad guys and fights. While it’s tempting to plow through all 600 pages at once, it’s best to read the series a few chapters at a time, without stopping in the middle of any major fights. In an attempt to jam pack the series with action, the panels occasionally get too busy and the fights hard to read; on the flip-side, this is one series where the Japanese sound effects are seamlessly drawn and really feel integral to the panels.
Trigun Maximum is the answer to a classic seinen action fan’s prayers. At 20 bucks you just can’t get a better bang for your buck than this first omnibus in the series. Even newcomers can find something to love here, and if you’re like me Maximum will make you want to dig into the original Trigun manga to fill in all the moon crater gaps…and to see more of Meryl and Milly.