IT: Chapter Two released last month in theatres, completing Andres Muschietti’s cinematic retelling of Stephen King’s story about a group of kids from Derry fighting the cosmic entity known commonly as Pennywise, the dancing clown.
This final chapter covers the Losers’ Club return to Derry as adults, slowly recovering their memories of the events from 27 years earlier when they sent Pennywise into early hibernation. Now that IT is awake, he reemerges to feast on humans. With the return of their childhood horror, the Losers have one last chance to end him for good.
Maybe you’ve already read Stephen King’s tome and seen both movies by now, and as we draw closer to Halloween, you’re probably craving something spooky. If you’re looking for more of IT’s themes and chilling thrills, you’ll be pleased to know of Naoki Urusawa’s manga, 20th Century Boys.
Urusawa is known for contusive works such as Monster and Pluto, both magnificent stories that inhabit hazy spaces where clues don’t quite come together coherently, with protagonists who chase after besieging antagonistic forces they never quite comprehend. Stories by Naomi Urusawa are as much a staple of Japanese horror as stories by Stephen King are for Americans, which makes the overlap between 20th Century Boys and IT all the more exciting.
20th Century Boys may not have a sewer-lurking extraterrestrial, but its plot does center around a cult leader known simply as “Friend”, and his powerful involvement at the center of an international alien conspiracy to destroy the world.
Just like in IT, the story follows a handful of adults living out their average lives until certain events cause them to reconvene. These events send them on a near-identical journey where they must recall old memories of their childhood together.
All ongoing strife caused by Friend are direct prophesies the story’s adult heroes once made up as children proclaiming their plan for world domination. But why exactly is Friend bringing their plan to fruition, and why can’t anyone remember who he is?
Time’s running short. The only way to find out and stop him is by beating him to each next event, a journey that tests characters’ patience and grip on reality.
With Urusawa’s masterful storytelling, the more you learn, the more distance you create between what you think you know is happening and what’s actually happening. To be honest, I’m not really sure it’s even possible to pinpoint any elements that would lift the veil on the evils within his stories. These aren’t just any old, malicious evils, either; they’re highly organized and purposeful, even if they just leave you feeling spooked and questioning your ability to make sense of them.
If you are looking for a wonderful way to satiate your Stephen King fever and have a penchant for the cryptic, enigmatic, inscrutable (especially as it relates to the occult), be sure to pick up 20th Century Boys. Stay safe out there this Halloween and avoid the jump-scares, unless, of course, that’s what you seek!