Story and Art by Akira Toriyama
Released in the US by Viz Shonen Jump
Slugline: Who needs plot when you deliver a kick to the head!
It's been five years since the previous volume of DragonBall, and Son Goku has married Chi Chi and has a son named Son Gohan after his dead grandfather, but Son Gohan has not undergone any martial arts training. That is problem, because it turns out that Son Goku is an alien, and the few remaining members of his race want to destroy all life on Earth. Son Goku’s brother shows up, kidnaps Son Gohan and recalls the other two survivors of his race to attack the Earth. Son Goku manages to defeat his brother, at the cost of his own life. While dead, he undergoes further training, and his son Son Gohan undergoes training under the hands of his worst enemy. It takes a year for the two alien Saiyans to reach Earth, and when they do they go through Son Goku's allies, killing several permanently beyond resurrection by the Dragon Balls. Even the Dragon Balls themselves are destroyed by the death of their creator. But SonGoku manages to defeat one of the Saiyans leaving the other, the Saiyan leader Vegeta, ready to rumble.
Thank goodness there are some limits from coming back from the dead, otherwise it would be hard to take any of this seriously. Though taking DragonBall Z seriously is probably something that ought to be discouraged. This is what I think of when I think of Dragon Ball Z. Over the top fighting manga, with ever increasing powerful techniques and secret moves, with stakes increasing until everything... that... we... know is at stake. This is PWP without the sex, just a bash to head, then training to bash the head even better next time. And in this case, the larger BIG format works better than the traditional sized manga volume, because the fight scenes use up pages very quickly, but with almost 600 pages the volume still takes a while to go through. Admittedly, stuff gets a little repetitive (kick to the head, rinse and repeat) but that is just the nature of the fighting manga. So as long as you are not expecting Shakespeare, this delivers (a kick to the head!)
Sorry, couldn't resist that last kick to the head.
Dragon Ball Z, Big Volume 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga