Toriyama's 'Jaco the Galactic Patrolman' offers sly humor, accomplished art

Sometimes after a tough week you just want to relax with something silly. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, by Akira Toriyama, is just that, a goofy story about an alien who just wants to make everything right—as long as nobody annoys him.

The story begins with Jaco's spaceship crashing on an island with only one inhabitant: Omori, an engineer (or maybe a research scientist—Toriyama doesn't bother with fine distinctions) who lives alone, away from humanity. Omori's backstory is that he tried to build a time machine, and the machine exploded and killed his wife. He lost his government funding, but he still spends all his time working on the machine, so he can go back in time and bring her back.

Jaco, who is basically a helpful guy, has come to earth to stop an alien projectile fired our way, but he collided with the moon along the way and his spaceship is damaged. Omori offers to fix it, but they need a special metal that is super expensive. While they ponder how to get that, they go to the mainland for supplies and Jaco ends up causing a scene when he rescues a girl named Tights from a group of thugs. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that the last two men that come running at her are policemen, and he tosses them in the air. A chase ensues, Tights helps him and the professor get away, and they all head back to the island.

It just gets more complicated from there, with subplots heaped on subplots—the government is trying to take back the island, and there's a singing idol who is going into space. The story moves fast but it's never haphazard; everything you see in chapter 1 shows up later in the story, and Toriyama knows how to keep a running gag going without running it into the ground. Jaco is a great character, sort of a solo Power Ranger with a big ego, and Omori is satisfyingly crotchety. Toriyama's art is wonderful, with precise details that set the scene without overwhelming the eye. All his characters feel solid, and even the extras in his crowd scenes have distinct personalities.

The story is complete in one volume, and it crosses over with Toriyama's much better known series, Dragon Ball; there's even a bonus story at the end about the origins of Goku, the main character in Dragon Ball. You don't have to be a Dragon Ball fan to enjoy Jaco, though, as it's completely independent, and although it's rated All Ages, it's not just for kids—the sly humor and truly accomplished art make it a good read for just about anyone.

[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

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