Retro Manga: Blaster Knuckle.
(AfroGamers.com) Historical fiction can be hit or miss. Sometimes you get something truly great like the material Balogun and Davis puts out with The Scythe and other series. Or the Marvel Noir series and American Vampire.
Another series that can be added to that is the seinen (men’s) manga series Blaster Knuckle. Debuting in 1992, it’s not the first time a Black protagonist has appeared in a manga but for one to be drawn better than “decently” by Japanese artists and to be written in the way he is, it’s an achievement. Shizuya Wazarai did the historical research and created lore within that context.
Blaster Knuckle ran for 36 chapters in the Young Animal magazine. Honestly, it could’ve done with more chapters because it starts off great and keeps this frantic pace throughout. It’s not busy but it won’t put you to sleep or have you revisiting it at a later time.
Victor Freeman: The Villain
It’s the 1880s in America and the country is two decades removed from the bloody Civil War conflict. Black people are freed but one group is big mad about it. You’ll never guess who it is in a million years so stop trying. Victor Freeman is a former slave who turned to boxing after he was freed. His body and face is covered in scars from a worse time but the path he’s taken is no different.
It unknown when he started, but Victor is wanted throughout the South and the West for the murder of nine white people. His wanted poster has the heftiest bounty available and by all intents and purposes he is viewed as a vicious monster. It doesn’t help that he is big, powerful, and an extremely skill boxer. Oh, and he’s heavily armed and has a glove that can shoot bullets.
He’s a walking nightmare, one might say an arsenal doom. The white establishment in these towns he rolls into view him as someone who needs to be stopped.
However, there’s one thing Victor and older Black people know that everyone else doesn’t. The thing is, Victor doesn’t know that older Blacks know this terrible secret until they let it slip. He’s not the only one who is seeing what he’s seen. As a child, Victor’s father was captured and lynched by the Klan. Instead of leaving him as a warning to other Blacks in the area, they removed their hoods and ate him.
Since then, Victor has been on the road of vengeance killing every demon he comes across and when Blaster Knuckle kicks off he’s already at nine men, women, and children. All possessed by the demonic blood, cursed to become stronger under a full moon and to feast on humans. As it happened, the Civil War simply allowed them to thrive and the Black populace served as the perfect food pool. After all, who would believe them if they uttered what they saw? Who would step in and stop it?
This is the kind of situation Victor Freeman has dealt with in each of his encounters in Blaster Knuckle either the higher ups in the town know about it and turn a blind eye or they all see what happened but Freeman still has to be brought in because all they have is a human corpse. It doesn’t stop him, though. He has found a way to trail them and will follow them to their next hosts until he stamps them out.
Victor’s battles in Blaster Knuckle are often extremely violent and hard fought. While a skilled gunman, bullets don’t really work on these monsters unless its a headshot with silver bullets. The monsters are powerful and have speed on their side while Victor, also powerful and agile has fighting spirit on his side. He also has the Blaster Knuckle, gloved mechanical knuckles that fire silver bullets. Needless to say, they come in handy in close encounters.
Where Can You Read It
Blaster Knuckle was never released in the U.S., your best bet to find it is through scanlation (scanned translation) or manga apps on mobile. That said, it’s well worth a read and at 36 chapters you won’t have a great investment in trying to catch up or keep up.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.