If Alan Moore's Watchmen is a 'classic' of the dark-fantasy comic genre, then NGE is a 'classic' of anime, and one with an incredibly loyal cult following. This, then, is the manga adaptation of one of that original contoversial, yet incredibly successful, anime.
I loved the anime series, although not a fanatical fan, as I thought both endings were EXTREMELY disappointing and actually detracted from the story. After reading this first 'book' I have to admit that I am impressed how well this adaptation works. It takes the original series and looks at it from a slightly different angle.
After the last battle in which he was forced to watch helplessly as the dummy-plug controlled EVA-1 destroyed the 'Angel' (EVA-3) and killed its pilot (and his schoolyard friend, Toji)
Shinji leaves the Evangelion project, vowing never to return.
However, before he can fully leave Tokyo-3, another Angel attacks. As Asuka and Rei are defeated by the Angel, Gendo Ikari (Shinji's father and Commander of NERV) attempts to activate EVA-1 with the dummy-plug system and fails. It seems EVA-1 only wants its pilot...
Meanwhile, having been 'found' by Kaji (who has been revealed as a spy within NERV working for the Japanese Ministry of the Inerior) Shinji takes refuge in a huge shelter beneath the railway system where Kaji relates his life-story. Of course, this being Evangelion, there is a lot more than just that going on. We also learn the real reason that all these monsters keep attacking Tokyo, and the relationship that the NERV organization has with the tragedies that have killed half of Earth's population.Most shockingly, we also learn that the giant robots aren't actually giant robots, but living organisms!!
Shinji returns to NERV to pilot EVA-1 and defeat the current Angel threat, but in the process his 'essence' (body, ego, and soul) are absorbed by the EVA itself. The volume concludes with Dr Akagi telling Misato that there *might* be a way to bring Shinji back, while at the same time the secretive SEELE set in motion a plan to wrest control of NERV back from Gendo Ikari....