After the events of Gundam Wing, peace still does not come easily. Small rebel factions slowly gain influence and power, and those that were wronged during the war creep out from the woodworks. Relena, a symbol of peace and a primary political figure in the post-war rebuilding efforts, is kidnapped. The five pilots must once again come together in order to protect their fragile peace while simultaneously wrestling with their own morals and motivations.
This manga version of the events taking place between the anime and the OAV is probably the best.
STORY - Blind Target is one of three version of events between Gundam Wing and Endless Waltz and is written by Akemi Omode, one of the scriptwriters for the series. As with the rest, it addresses the reasoning behind the pilots' decision to send their Gundams into the sun, as well as the reactions of various parties and factions to the conclusion of the anime -- namely, the call for peace. The storytelling flows pretty smoothly and it feels a lot more put together than just a
rough assemblage of expository and half-assed philosophy. One of the things I liked best is the fact that there isn't a single mecha fight in this entire manga -- it's all character and moral exploration. And it isn't completely idealistic either! Sure, there are a few explosions and guns-in-your-face, as well as a ploy to conquer space/the world, but the backbone of the plot isn't dependent on those factors, which is a huge plus. Blind Target also takes the liberty of introducing the very beginning of Endless Waltz, making the story connect even better.
CHARACTERS - Once again, the characters are appropriately reflective of their anime counterparts, but as the story actually focuses on thoughts more than action and battles, the cast is actually treated to some depth and exploration. The characters that are exclusive to Blind Target are pretty simple, but most of them still feel complete: they have clear beliefs, morals, and the logic to their actions make sense... at least the protagonists do. The antagonists, unfortunately, fall to a cliche ambition, but I guess we can't have everything. The members of our familiar cast all have their moments, and it's very easy to imagine the animated version of the story they're playing out. I was also pleased to see that the five pilots and Relena all got more or less equal focus, something that didn't really happen with both Ground Zero and Battlefield of Pacifists.
ART - Blind Target's art is very reminiscent of the anime. The style's almost a perfect match, but with all the extra details and crispness that comes with manga. Despite there being a good chunk of talking heads, there are also plenty of interesting angles and dynamic action, as well as varied page and panel layouts. The good art really enhances the read.
OTHER - Viz translated and published Blind Target in 2001. The most obvious signs of age are the left-to-right format and the translated sound effects, which I always feel are awkward on the page. Viz also took the liberty of inserting newspaper clipping-like dividers between the four chapters of the story. These inserts have information on the various characters, their backgrounds, and their personalities, but while they're fairly informative, the way they're worded is incredibly corny. The text is rife with rhetorical questions, and there's also a bunch of information from Endless Waltz, which really shouldn't have a place in a book that takes place before it. The typography looks good for the most part, and the translation feels natural and fitting with the anime, but there are a few pages where poor layouting causes the spine of the book to devour some of the pictures and dialogue.
OVERALL - If you're going to pick one filler story to accept as canon, I would recommend Blind Target. It makes the most sense, connects the best, has character exploration, and some pretty nice art.