Viz Media has announced the publication of Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Four-Panel Comics.
The book will feature a complete collection of the four-panel comic strips from Hiromu Arakawa's original Fullmetal Alchemist series (which is published in English by VIZ Media) and never-before-seen bonus strips from Japan.
In Japan, four-panel comic strips are called 4-koma. They're usually comedy and gag strips. When a serialized manga series has a spin-off 4-koma series, they're usually a supplement at the end of the serialized chapters of the regular manga series. They feature the characters from the regular manga series goofing around with each other. Thus, characters that might be grim and serious in the regular series would get into goofy and funny situations in the 4-koma strips that are outside the continuity of the regular serial. They're still the same characters that readers and fans already know, just stuck in less serious scenarios. It's a bit like a comedy behind-the-scenes, fourth wall-breaking diversion filled with in-jokes and metacommentary on the regular series and even manga in general.
You probably know the plot of Fullmetal Alchemist already, but the synopsis of the four-panel series is a little bit different. See if you can spot just how different:
"In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Though the Elric brothers' circumstances are tragic, in these spoofs penned by author Hiromu Arakawa, the duo's quest to reclaim their bodies is completely hilarious!""The FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE COMPLETE FOUR-PANEL COMICS adds a fun and lighthearted twist to Hiromu Arakawa's beloved action-adventure series," says Hope Donovan, VIZ Media's Managing Editor. "FULLMETAL fans and readers familiar with Arakawa's humor won't want to miss this comprehensive collection."
The FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE COMPLETE FOUR-PANEL COMICS complements VIZ Media's current release of the remastered FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: FULLMETAL EDITION. Featuring an updated translation and fresh lettering, the FULLMETAL EDITION volumes are each presented with bonus color pages on large-trim archival-quality paper. Fans can also explore the artwork of the series in THE COMPLETE ART OF FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST. The substantial print-exclusive edition contains more than 300 illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa.
The book is be out on March 12th and is rated 'T' for Teens and carries a print MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $17.99 CAN.