The second volume of the long-running manga series sees it settle down into the general series theme, with flamboyant art thief Eroica and uptight NATO intelligence agent Iron Klaus finding their paths repeatedly crossing, sometimes as opponents, sometimes having to work together. Set in the Cold War Europe of the 1970s, it shows a pair of characters who are on opposite sides of the law and very different in personality, but with some surprising things in common. Alas, one of those things is not sexual orientation, and Eroica’s romantic interest in Klaus is destined to remain unrequited, providing the source of much fun during the series.
And there’s plenty of fun to be had. The stories are completely over the top, in the same way that the Bond films are over the top — camp, very funny, and with plenty of action. In this one, Eroica and Klaus have a shared interest in a Greek shipping tycoon. Eroica wants to steal an art treasure, and Klaus wants to stop a KGB agent’s honeytrap operation. This leads on to a second adventure in which Klaus is trying to protect world leaders at a meeting which just happens to be just down the road from Eroica’s castle — and for perfectly rational reasons, Klaus ends up ordering Eroica to strip and hand over his underpants… But when they’re forced by circumstances to work together, they make a very good team.
Flawed but likeable people, they’re enormously entertaining to watch, as are the secondary characters. Both men have a team of minions, not all of whom are quite what their masters would wish for. This volume introduces Agent G, Klaus’ gay cross-dressing agent who has a crush on Eroica.
There’s also an independent story to fill out the page count, about a strait-laced young German man sent on a cultural exchange visit to a tiny island nation with a very strange navy. There’s not much plot, and there’s an awful lot of froth, but it’s a quick fun read with a serious point underneath the fluff.