MW (1976)


Comics god Osamu Tezuka’s darkest work, MW is a chilling picaresque of evil. Steering clear of the supernatural as well as the cuddly designs and slapstick humor that enliven many of Tezuka’s better-known works, MW explores a stark modern reality where neither divine nor secular justice seems to prevail. This willfully “anti-Tezuka” achievement from the master’s own pen nevertheless pulsates with his unique genius.

Michio Yuki has it all: looks, intelligence, a pedigree as the scion of a famous Kabuki family, a promising career at a major bank, legions of female admirers. But underneath the sheen of perfection lurks a secret with the power to shake the world to its foundations.

During a boyhood excursion to one of the southern archipelagos near Okinawa, Yuki barely survived exposure to a poison gas stored at a foreign military facility. The leakage annihilated all of the island’s inhabitants but was promptly covered up by the authorities, leaving Yuki as an unacknowledged witness—one whose sense of right and wrong, however, the potent nerve agent managed to obliterate.

Now, fifteen years later, Yuki is a social climber of Balzacian proportions, infiltrating the worlds of finance and politics by day while brutally murdering children and women by night—perversely using his Kabuki-honed skills as a female impersonator to pass himself off as the women he’s killed. His drive, however, will not be satiated with a promotion here and a rape there. Michio Yuki has a far more ominous objective: obtaining MW, the ultimate weapon that spared his life but robbed him of all conscience.

There are only two men with any hope of stopping him: one, a brilliant public prosecutor who struggles to build a case against the psychopath; the other, a tormented Catholic priest, Iwao Garai, who shares Yuki’s past—and frequently his bed.

From: Vertical Inc.

Notes on This Title

This title features multiple scenes of sexual assault, including that of a child, as well as implied bestiality.


2008 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material - Japan - Nominee


“Who knew the “godfather of manga” could be this dark? When a mysterious poison gas kills the inhabitants of a Japanese island that was once home to a foreign military base, two survivors are inextricably linked by tragedy that is sealed by an illicit relationship that cannot be severed.

The older, Garai, turns to God and takes his priestly vows. The younger, Yuki, a brilliant, charismatic, rising banker, is mired in a secret life of torturous murder. Depraved Yuki flaunts his evil-doing as he “confesses” to the tortured Garai, who can do nothing to stop him. When Yuki devises the ultimate destruction of the human race, Garai can no longer keep his bond of silence.” (Source: BookDragon)

“The plot of MW is a multi-sided cat-and-mouse game, as Yuki’s inventively horrible plots work their ways toward fruition, as a prosecutor’s investigator, Meguro, tries to track down “the kidnapper,” and as the priest Garai struggles with his uncontrollable attraction to Yuki.

My understanding is that homosexuality was even more underground in Japan than it was in the USA at similar times, so it must have been a gamble for even an artist as beloved as Tezuka to put a homosexual relationship at the core of MW. (I’m not sure if the fact that it’s explicitly a forbidden relationship with a sociopath whom the priest tries to control or stop, made it more or less palatable to Japanese audiences then.)

As I said up top, MW is exceptionally dark: I won’t give away the ending – which is excellent – but it’s in keeping with the story and has a breathtaking moment in nearly the last panel that…well, I can’t tell you without spoiling the story. MW is a story that will make you think, and will probably make you unhappy about a segment of mankind, and will thrill you in ways that feel uncomfortable. It’s a major graphic novel by a major creator, grappling with the nature of evil in a way that superhero comics only wish they could. And it’s presented in a form nearly transparent to Western readers. From what I’ve seen, Tezuka’s dark works of the ‘60s and ‘70s are easily his best, and MW is right up there.” (Source: Comic Mix)

“In MW, Yuki Michio is transformed into a psychopath by a traumatic experience as a child when his family is taken hostage by a band of young anarchists. He is raped by a member of the group, but the pair end up as lifelong confidants as they bear witness to a government testing program of an experimental gas called “MW” that kills everyone on the island, including the other anarchists and Yuki’s family. Yuki’s rapist, Garai, responds to the incident by becoming a Catholic priest, seeking redemption through his faith. Yuki, in contrast, becomes a sadistic murderer who kidnaps, rapes, and tortures his way toward his goals of exposing those responsible for the MW incident and, ultimately, using the gas to wipe out the human race.” (Source: World Literature Today)



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