After I bought the big collection of the first three volumes of Dragon Ball on a whim, pretty much all of us started to pick up the series, and while I can’t say I speak for everybody, it’s probably the greatest thing ever.
So far my collection of the series is comprised of the two VIZBIG Editions (which cover volumes one through six), volume seven of the more recently published Shonen Jump Manga, volume eight of the older Viz Graphic Novel collection (where it’s not broken up between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z), and issues five through ten of part four of the monthly Viz Comics run, which pick up somewhere in the middle of volume eight of the manga. With all that material (which is really such a small fraction of the Dragon Ball world) it was pretty difficult to pin down one particular moment which captures the series so far, but volume seven undoubtedly comes the closest in providing such a scene-with the exception of something that happens an issue or two later, but I’m not trying to spoiler alert anyone on that.
Let’s be real, Kinto’un is probably one of the best characters of Dragon Ball. He’s always showing up at the right times and because you know he’s always working for Goku’s pure heart, you always get a sense that the good guys are totally going to win whenever he’s around. A big part of the appeal for me is remembering watching Dragon Ball when I was in 4th grade, and how blown away I was then over this kid who got to ride on this fast as shit cloud. From remembering how it looked on TV, and how that translates to the layout and movement within the panels, I still have that same sense of wonderment, and am still just as jealous Goku has Kinto’un and I don’t.
Overall, Dragon Ball is great because it has the perfect mix of intense fights, awesome adventures, and a million jokes about boobs. In volume seven, Goku, Bulma, and Kuririn get chased into an underwater cave by the Red Ribbon Army, who are also after the dragon balls. After having all of his squad killed off by some booby-trapped hallway (which is dealt with in a goofy enough way to keep things from getting too heavy), General Blue comes head to head with Goku, and is only eventually beat because he’s too big a queerby to deal with a mouse running around in a cave.
In return, Goku saves the mouse as the cave is falling down around them by shoving it in his mouth and Kamehameha-ing their little submarine out before they’re crushed to death. Toriyama’s handling of these super-stressful events in a fun, light-hearted way is what really drive the series, and what makes the panel of their escape so perfect.