Following up to the successful Phantom Blood, Hirohiko Araki delivers a perfect example of a good sequel: get everything great about the first and build on it, and get everything bad about the first and improve it. What Araki creates is one of the best direct sequels in manga history.
Battle Tendency picks up 50 years after the events of Phantom Blood, around 1940. After the ending of Phantom Blood, Speedwagon moves to America and becomes an insanely rich oil tycoon. He forms the Speedwagon Foundation with the ultimate goal of protecting the Joestar family and killing all vampires. Jonathan's wife, Erina, raises her grandson Joseph Joestar, the second true Jojo. Joseph moves to America while Speedwagon discovers frozen vampires in Mexico. However, Nazis led by Rudol von Stroheim kidnap him and accidentally awaken the vampires, known as the Pillar Men. Now they have to team up with Speedwagon, Joseph, Zeppeli's grandson Caesar, and a mysterious martial artist named Lisa Lisa to stop the Pillar Men (Santana, Wham, ACDC, and Kars) from destroying the world. It's a very fun story that never has a slow moment unlike Phantom Blood. Much more comedic than it's predecessor, the dramatic moments still hit hard. The climax, though stupid beyond belief, is nevertheless epic and hilariously over the top.
The art has improved greatly since Phantom Blood. Araki is still sticking with the overly macho man style while dealing a little bit better with anatomy. Not much o say here other than it's a great improvement over Phantom Blood, while still retaining its style, a style Araki won't really change until Part 4.
For the most part, the characters are very fun. Speedwagon is pretty much useless, but it fits his character who not only is frail and timid to begin with but is now like 89 years old. von Stroheim, especially when he becomes a cyborg, is simply awesome, and his assertions of Nazi German superiority seem true. Caesar serves a similar role that his grandfather did in Phantom Blood, but he's much more young and hotheaded, making him a perfect counterpart to Joseph. The Pillar Men are pure hype, and Wham specifically is one of the best Jojo antagonists ever. I did not care much for Lisa Lisa or Smokey Brown (A kid that Joseph takes with him when eh tried to pickpocket Joseph) at all.
But to make up for that, Joseph. Addressing the complaints that Jonathan was "too dull" and "too one dimensional", Joseph is a colorful character and unlike Jonathan, is a trickster. Rather than fight nobly, Joseph gets enjoyment out of creating master ruses to piss off his enemies. His trademark "You're next line will be..." is hilarious. Pretty much everything about him is hilarious in fact, whether crossdressing to sneak into a Nazi camp or throwing dismembered arms to choke enemies. It's impossible to not be tricked into following this crazy bastard thanks to his endless charisma, wackiness, and flamboyance.
Battle Tendency is a very fun story arc for all the reasons above. It feels much more like a "bizarre adventure" than Phantom Blood did, and it delivers all the goods expected and more. It's very, very dumb, but that's the fun. And even with the comedy, there are still some damn fine dramatic moments, and it's overall very well written as expected of Araki.
Great fights, great characters, great art, Battle Tendency is just lots of fun. A more than worthy follow up to Phantom Blood, it's like the Terminator 2 of manga.