Winry successfully helps deliver Dominic’s grandchild, but the stubborn automail mechanic continues to deny her request for apprenticeship. Instead, Dominic agrees to introduce the hopeful mechanic to another mentor at the base of the mountain and will allow her to observe him work when she visits the baby. Winry decides to remain in Rush Valley while Ed and Al embark to reunite with their former teacher in Dublith.
The Elric brothers are welcomed in unique fashion by Izumi Curtis, their terrifyingly powerful alchemist teacher. Izumi witnesses Ed transmute without a transmutation circle and sternly asks if he saw “that thing”. She demands that the boys tell her everything that has occurred since she last saw them. The boys divulge a heartbreaking story losing their mother, their journey to become her students and the horrific results of their attempt at human transmutation.
Colonel Roy Mustang and Lieutenant Hawkeye arrive to recruit a talented alchemist, but instead witness absolute carnage. Al’s soul has been fused to an empty set of armor while Ed lies in bed with one arm and leg less than expected. Despite their monumental rebellion against the laws of alchemy, Mustang recognizes Ed’s potential and offers him the opportunity to become a State Alchemist in exchange for the resources necessary to discover how to restore their bodies.
Ed pushes through a painful recovery process from automail surgery in 1 year instead of 3 as stated by his surgeons. The motivated alchemist arrives at Central City for his state alchemy exam only to be observed by Führer President King Bradley. Ed transmutes a spear without a circle and immediately charges at King Bradley in order to demonstrate the ease of potential assassination based on the current test parameters. After Bradley calms the tension and is on his way out, Ed’s spear falls into 2 pieces. Ed didn’t even see the mysterious Führer President King draw his sword. Ed passes the exam and is give the code name Fullmetal Alchemist.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Vol. 4 is overflowing with character development, backstory and tragedy. This volume is potentially the most important to date as we learn more about the Elric brothers’ journey, including their failed attempt at human transmutation and Ed’s encounter with The Truth. I’m a sucker for strong female characters and there are few stronger than Izumi Curtis. Her tough love is terrifyingly beautiful.
Just like the previous volume, I read the entire thing in one sitting. Hiromu Arakawa’s line work provides so much movement that it feels like watching the anime rather than reading. The dialogue and art suck me in and time ceases to exist. Every new character has unique personality that hits you like a freight train. While the action and humor are incredible, it is the deeply connected relationships that propel Fullmetal Alchemist to the upper echelon of manga.
The Fullmetal Edition Vol. 4 includes concept sketches and insight into Leiutenant Hawkeye along with intermittent full color pages. The beautiful hardcover features the aforementioned Hawkeye with gold metallic lettering. You can order your copy of this amazing series right here!
Note: Viz Media provided us with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.