• Osamu Tezuka
• Dark Horse (2002–2004)
• Kôbunsha (Shônen, 1952–1968)
• Shônen, Mecha, Science Fiction
• Unrated/All Ages (mild violence)
The Astro Boy manga represents the early Tezuka at his best, crafting polished, fast-paced adventure stories crackling with energy and wit. Astro (“Atom” in the original Japanese) is a boy robot created by the embittered Dr. Tenma, then adopted by kindly Professor Ochanomizu of the Ministry of Science. With the professor’s help, Astro learns to use his superhuman powers to protect humanity. Although the Astro Boy stories are simple, action-oriented, and aimed at children, they also touch upon some of Tezuka’s favorite big issues, including the struggle for equality (here demonstrated by robots that are treated like second-class citizens) and the thin line dividing the human and nonhuman. Modeled after a Japanese reprint edition, the Dark Horse edition of Astro Boy prints the stories out of chronological order, in a “greatest hits” fashion, often with introductory manga sections by Tezuka. The entire series is excellent, but if you read only one volume, consider volume 3, featuring the long and famous story “The Greatest Robot on Earth.” Published when the Astro Boy manga and anime were at the height of their popularity, this story is fondly remembered by generations of readers and was the inspiration for Naoki Urasawa’s untranslated Tezuka-noir manga Pluto.