ASTROBOY VOLUME 9

1. THE SECRET OF THE EGYPTIAN CONSPIRATORS

First serialized from April to August 1969 in Shonen magazine.

Mr. Mustachio is accosted by a man on a train who gives him a pendant shaped just like a valentine heart. He implores Mustachio to keep it hidden and to watch out for the Egyptian Conspirators. Jumping off the train the man is attacked and killed. Upon finding out he doesn’t have the pendant the conspirators check the train and notice the pendant protruding from Mustachio’s pocket. He fights them inside and on top of the train and is finally captured but Astro appears in time to save him.

Later Mustachio shows the pendant to Astro, Professor Ochanomizu and Inspector Nakamura of the police. The professor recognizes the pendant as the one that had belonged to the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra over 2000 years ago. He says as crazy as it sounds there’s a woman in Egypt who claims to be Cleopatra resurrected and she’s built some evil secret society to help her re-claim her ancient empire. He instructs Astro to conceal the pendant inside his chest compartment while they investigate the activities of the society.

In reality the new Queen Cleopatra is a robot created by the leader of the Egyptian Conspirators, Dr. Baribari. Her master sends her along with four giant robot warriors to recover the pendant from Astro at any cost to validate her claims in the eyes of the people of Egypt. Astro is nearly destroyed in the fight although he defeats three of the warriors. He is rescued by a mysterious man wearing a mask-like hat obscuring his face. He protects Astro and repairs him but Dr. Baribari manages to abduct Astro. Astro puts up a good struggle but is knocked out. However Baribari’s henchmen are terrified to open Astro’s chest because there’s a note written on the partition saying he is rigged to explode if tampered with. Baribari is outraged and orders his men to take Astro to Egypt where they can assess their problem at leisure.

Baribari orders Cleopatra to kill the strange man who helped Astro but he outsmarts and stuns her. He turns out to be Astro’s creator, Dr. Tenma and he removes the apparatus attached to her electronic brain which Baribari uses to send her commands. Tenma assures Cleopatra it’s right to disobey her creator when she can tell what he says is wrong and she takes Tenma to Egypt with her via the rocket jets in her last remaining giant warrior. They discover Astro a helpless prisoner of the conspirators.

Tenma is also captured and Cleopatra is blasted when she protests. Baribari intends to combine his Cleopatra and Tenma’s Astro into one powerful robot but Tenma manages to spray his captors with sneezing gas inside the buttons of his jacket. His own hat mask protects him from the gas and while everybody is disabled he breaks free and borrows some of Cleopatra’s energy to revive Astro. Just as Tenma finishes the giant warrior seizes him and Astro wakes up just in time to save him. Astro flies off with the inactive Cleopatra and the warrior flies after him. In the fight Astro is smashed into the temple wall and buried behind the giant’s body with only the bottom half sticking out.

Meanwhile Cleopatra is sent flying outside in the midst of the population. When they realize that they’ve been tricked by Baribari they riot against him, bash him half to death and charge into the temple shooting and smashing everything up.

In desperation Baribari picks himself up and drags Cleopatra into his secret laboratory while the rioting is taking place. He repairs her, dresses her in her royal robes and commands her to silence the people and persuade them she is a true human. However Cleopatra turns against her master and imprisons him inside a sarcophagus in her arms with a time bomb set to explode and bury them in rubble in one minute.

Astro has survived a punches his way out of the wall through the giant’s torso. Tenma has also managed to keep out of the line of fire and informs Astro that the Egyptian Conspiracy has been wiped out and Cleopatra has perished along with her creator. Tenma refuses to unmask himself or even tell Astro who he is. Astro flies off home to Japan strongly suspecting that the mysterious man is his creator while Tenma wishes him all the very best and urges him to keep fighting for the good of all humans worldwide.

Trivia

Bits and pieces of this story were used for two episodes of the 1960’s series: 44. Cleopatra’s Heart and 45. The Return of Cleopatra and for one episode of the 1980’s series: 31. The Return of Queen Cleopatra.

Tenma does not feature in any of the above anime adaptations. In this manga story he is seen keeping his promise made to Astro in “Once Upon A Time Astro Boy Tales Part 3” (Volume 8) to keep a watchful caring eye on Astro from a distance. The only other time so far he has shown up to aid and assist Astro is in “The Greatest Robot In The World” (Volume 3) The big significant difference is that in “Greatest Robot” he allows Astro to see his face for the brief time he appears in the story as opposed to keeping his identity concealed from him.

2. THE INVISIBLE GIANT

First serialized from May to July 1960 in Shonen magazine.

A desperately scared scientist, Dr. Woods, has hired some gangsters to destroy the new 3D TV operating inside the local television station’s headquarters. A giant ghost is appearing through the waves emitted by the device and killing people by suffocating them. Dr. Woods is scared that this ghost will want to kill him too specifically.

The gangsters infiltrate the station and blast the set to pieces with guns. But the big boss, Mr. Nada demands that Dr. Woods explain what this was all about. The doctor refuses but Nada has him tied up and whipped until he agrees to talk.

The ghost is actually Dr. Wood’s former assistant, Hanabusa. The two of them had been experimenting with devices meant to transport things electronically from one place to another. Woods had given up in despair, but Hanabusa swore that one day he would succeed by himself. Three years later Woods received a phone call from Hanabusa to say he’d built an excellent matter transporter and prepared to deliver some things over to the receiver that was still standing there at Woods’ own end. A fish, a rabbit, a robot and finally Hanabusa himself. Woods was so deeply jealous at being humiliated by his former assistant that he blew up the receiving machine stranding Hanabusa in space. 3D TV’s are very similar to the concept of a matter transporter but much simpler so he is not able to assume his normal form. Nada hears about a second 3D TV owned by a family and determines to steal it so he can summon Hanabusa.

Astro happens to know the family since the son is one of his classmates, Shibugaki. Previously he had seen Hanabusa appear while Shib was trying to demonstrate the TV to him and had fought the spectre off. The gangsters steal the machine while he is trying to investigate further disguised as an electrical repairman. They escape in a helicopter while Astro is fighting a big robot they used to aid them. After dispatching the robot Astro tracks them down by picking up the helicopter with his amplified hearing and arrives just in time to rescue dr. Woods from Hanabusa. Having summoned him Nada has promised to help him return to normal in return for a few small favours and one of them is to dispose of Woods but Astro flies away with woods to his home. Woods confesses to Astro and Astro goes to search Hanabusa’s home for the blueprints to the machine he’d built. He finds them and gives them to Professor Ochanomizu.

Meanwhile Nada is using Hanabusa to commit murders as part of his criminal schemes to get rich. The police raid his hideout and are threatened by Hanabusa but Astro saves them by smashing the TV. However he realizes that in doing so he has destroyed the evidence and Inspector Tawashi is outraged.

Astro goes to Ochanomizu’s lab for comfort but finds that Nada and his men have knocked out the Professor and those who were assisting him to build a matter transporter based off the blueprints. They warn Astro that they will kill Ochanomizu if he interferes and Nada tries to summon Hanabusa once more. However Hanabusa appears in human form though his molecules have been permanently combined with those of the fish, rabbit and robot he had tried to transport in addition to himself. He deeply regrets the killings he committed while he was in gaseous form. He was a complete monster and he helps Astro to overpower and knock out Nada and his men. Afterwards he uses the machine to transport himself to a far distant planet to live taking the blueprints and instructing Astro to smash the machine to bits. Astro does so and though Ochanomizu is at first angry when he comes to, he thanks Astro for preventing the villains from stealing it. Nada and his men are all sent to jail.

Trivia

Tezuka received inspiration for this story from a French Science-Fiction novel called “The Fly”

3. COBALT

First serialized from June to September 1954 in Shonen magazine.

Astro has another very important mission for his country. A bomber plane from some other part of the world has crashed into the sea nearby Japan’s coastline. It was delivering a hydrogen bomb to a military base in the middle of the pacific when it suddenly went out of control and disappeared into deep water. Japan has been warned that the bomb is set to blow up in ten days and one week has already passed. If Astro can’t locate and defuse the bomb in three days Japan will be wiped off the map entirely.

But suddenly Astro disappears without a trace and everybody at the Ministry of Science and the police are very worried. Professor Ochanomizu argues against announcing the terrible news and risking a panic riot. He is building a similar robot to Astro called Cobalt, to try to help save the day. The professor speeds up development on Cobalt and completes him.

Unfortunately tests show that while Cobalt has basically the same amount of I.Q. as Astro, he is absolutely useless when it comes to detailed jobs such as disassembling things. Therefore he won’t be able to defuse the bomb and they’ve almost run out of time as it’s due to explode tomorrow. But there is one last hope. The radar energy inside Cobalt is precisely identical to that built into Astro. Thus Cobalt will be able to track Astro down no matter where he is. Following Cobalt’s progress on computer Ochanomizu and everybody else see that he is flying out to sea and they realize to their joy, that all the time they’ve spent worrying Astro has already been trying his best to search for the bomb. Cobalt and Astro meet each other and work together to find the bomb but Astro is suddenly about to break down when one of his vacuum tubes malfunctions. Cobalt heroically replaces Astro’s faulty tube with one of his own and Astro promises to have him repaired later. Astro is able to disarm the bomb just in the very nick of time with only one second to spare. Japan is saved.

Trivia

This is the origin of the robot boy Cobalt who would be adopted by Astro’s robot parents and become his dear brother. Cobalt was omitted from the 1980’s and 2000’s anime series but featured in the 1960’s series. The english dub gave him the name Jetto.