Writer and Artist: Osamu Tezuka
While Volume 1 primarily developed fictional side characters, Volume 2 is entirely devoted to the early life of Siddhartha, the man who would become Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha, born into royalty, is a misfit from the beginning. Perceived as weak, he shows neither interest nor aptitude for becoming a warrior. From an early age, he demonstrates disdain for India's caste system and great sympathy for all humans and animals as well. His curiosity about death leads him to ask questions and no one in his immediate sphere is able to provide satisfying answers. The Four Encounters follows his efforts to break away from the world of his parents in order to pursue a monastic life.
The strengths of the first volume all carry over for the second. The artwork is stunning. I'll admit, as a comic reader, I don't spend as much time on each individual frame as I probably should. I'm a text guy. But with Tezuka's work, it's impossible not to linger over a panel from time to time. Landscapes are his greatest strength, not unlike Hayao Miyazaki, a film director who was greatly influenced by Tezuka.
I'm looking forward to Volume 3.