20th Century Boys, vols 2-4 - Naoki Urasawa
When Kenji was a kid, this wasn't what he expected the future to be like - running his family store, now a part of a national chain, while raising the baby his sister was unable to care for herself. No, Kenji had imagined a future of laser guns and an evil conspiracy to destroy the world - a detailed and fantastic future-history that he wrote down in a "Book of Prophecy" along with the rest of his childhood gang. Only, certain events are starting to seem rather familiar, and he's sure he's seen the symbol of this new doomsday cult somewhere before. Could it be that a member of his old gang is now actually trying to enact Kenji's absurd plans of global destruction?
I started reading this series on the back of a number of mentions from people who praised it highly, but did little to explain just what was so great about it, and I now find myself in the same position. Mystery, comedy, family drama, horror, science fiction, crime, action, period drama, epic, personal, all this and more. But more importantly, well characterised, well observed, well written, carefully plotted, and always intriguing you with new mysteries, even as others are solved when they've run their course. It's difficult to know just who to recommend 20th Century Boys to, except to say that this is a work of some skill and artistry, and you should definitely find out if it's for you.