Comic: Gunhed #3


Gunhed #3

English Comic Title

GUNHED Gun Unit/Heavy Elimination Device #3


Kia Asamiya


Kia Asamiya
Kia Asamiya
Lea Hernandez
Viz Comics


Kia Asamiya



By: Anthony Romero

This is the third and final chapter, covering the last part of what happens in Gunhed (1989). Even more changes to the subject matter happen in this "chapter", being an overall improvement versus the film. That said, like the second issue, it's still hard to follow. At least the art is better, but that's mainly because it focuses on the battle between Gunhed and the Aerobot, which plays to Kia Asamiya's strength of depicting the mechs.

As for the story, it takes a lot of liberties in contrast to the film. Gone is the oilfield battle, which was actually the best part of the movie thanks to some amazing special effects work by Koichi Kawakita. Instead we get a much, much longer battle between Gunhed and the Aerobot. In the film, this was okay but the stiffness of the Aerobot prevented the battle from being very dynamic. Thanks to the manga format, the conflict is more engaging. The action, while it could have been more clear, can still be followed, unlike a few other sequences in this series. Asamiya does a redesign of the Aerobot too, which like his Biodroid is more sleek and modern looking. The battle is overall satisfying, and actually packs an "oomph" at the end when Gunhed fires its big cannon.

Another change to the story is how the battle actually mixes with what the other characters are doing. In the film, the battle was divorced from the awkward stuff with Nim and the Seven and Eleven characters. Here, Gunhed and the Aerobot literally fall through the floor to interrupt a confrontation between Nim and the Biodroid.

Speaking of the Biodroid, following that scene the manga closes by having Brooklyn meet the damaged creature. In this case half of the face is gone, showing Bebe underneath. That's a mammoth change from the film. Bebe seems to regain control and tells Brooklyn to leave. He wants to help but Bebe says that he must go alone. She then says "goodbye…" and the Biodroid just stands there. The very next panel Brooklyn is walking through a door somewhere else, making this feel rushed and confusing. Safe to assume she died there, but couldn't the story at least give Brooklyn a panel to react to it?

Another good size change from the film is Eleven, one of the children. Well… maybe it's less of a change and more clarity versus the confusing narrative in the movie, hard to know. In the case of the comic, when Eleven reaches the Texmexcium "chamber" a pre-recorded message plays. I'm assuming it's from her parents, but could be anyone on the technical staff of the island before they were killed. They talk about how Kyron 5 stole Eleven's voice (why?) and that it made her the secret "keyword" needed to enact a doomsday scenario (again, why?). The Biodroid appears on cue and then tries to get her to say the keyword. At this point she regains her voice and starts to say it (is she in a trance?) before Nim appears and stops her.

This is better than the film, where Eleven starts painfully puking light (hard to describe it otherwise) heading toward the climax. Seven tells her it serves her right, which is so confusing… and later she just suddenly appears in the Texmexcium "chamber". She approaches the Texmexcium, and is stopped by Nim which also stops her light puking (again, hard to describe). She later talks in the movie, after being mute before, and no one bats an eye.

Curious, though, I rewatched the film after reading this manga. Sure enough, the "keyword" aspect does come up in the movie. Brooklyn briefly mentions that a keyword is needed around the middle part of the film, while working on Gunhed. Furthermore, the Biodroid, when scanning Eleven, has onscreen text in English that says: "the keyword was in-put seventeen years ago". So I guess this was a side story that was edited out, or so poorly explained in the final cut it feels edited out.

Anyway, as for the art in the manga, this issue largely focuses on the mechs and battle sequences. Complaints about the human characters, who look out of place in the manga, are still valid. Thanks to the mechs taking center stage here, though, it's easier to overlook than the prior two issues.

Overall, this issue has some really good moments. It is notably better than the film's climax, while the art here plays to the artist's strengths. It still has some puzzling sequences, though. Not only that but this issue of course requires reading the prior two for context, and taken as a whole package it's really only worth it for those curious on a different take on the Gunhed concept.

As a side note, the cover for this issue is odd. It features Brooklyn and Seven sitting on top of a Gunhed. However, the proportions are all wrong, with the Gunhed coming off more like the size of a small car rather than the giant mech that it is.