It’s the distant (but not too distant) future. Corporations have grown into international super powers that wage shadow wars with each other in an effort to steal or sabotage business. Cybernetic enhancements/replacements are as commonplace as tattoos. Robots with seemingly human level intelligence exists in many aspects of day to day life. Space colonies and moon bases are talked about in a nonchalant and almost boringly normal fashion.
The description provided above could describe a plethora of different titles: Ghost in the Shell, Shadowrun, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, to name a few. It is a setting that has long held our fascination (mine especially) and seems to have a special place in many of our hearts. Man Plus fits snugly into this genre and it was for this reason (among others) that I really enjoyed issue number one.
The story of Man Plus centers around a mysterious (and kind of creepy looking, if you ask me) android who is being pursued by an even more mysterious, and significantly better armed, group of robo-thugs (although I guess the technical term would be cyborgs on account of them being a mixture of man and machine) who don’t seem to care much if they obtain her dead, alive, or in a “needs repair” fashion. Both of these groups are being investigated and pursued by a rag-tag team of cops who each have varying levels of “metal to flesh” ratios.
Through out the course of the first issue, both the cops and the thugs make a few vague comments about how or why this particular android is strange. It was enough to not give anything away, yet also rope in my interest. What is this thing’s deal? And more importantly, do all androids look as unsettling as this one?
Aside from the plot hook in the first issue, the setting really drew me in. There are some things that will be present in almost any “sci-fi, but not that futuristic” setting. For example, wires and cables (specifically connectors, because in the future we’ve moved beyond the struggle of “which friggin’ way does this USB port go in? I know I’ve tried it both ways already”), cool looking helmets with a varying number of camera looking do-dads stuck to the front of them, and computers with holo-screens . You will find these things in more or less every piece of media that exists in this particular setting and Man Plus is no different.
The way these pieces of sci-fi technology are portrayed and used in a series heavily influence my over all perception of that series. Does it look natural or normal for that piece of technology to be used like that? For example, a wrist mounted holo-display that was showing a 3D security camera recording makes sense and has practical application. It’s something you could imagine actually being developed some time in the future. However, a small flying red ball (with no visible means of propulsion and no further explanation) that displays the word “Danger!” in bright red flashing letters (presumably it could display other words, too) doesn’t make much sense. Thankfully, Man Plus was pleasantly devoid of flying text delivery balls but did have some wrist mounted holo projectors.
The art provides a solid backbone for the comic overall. It looks well done and realistic while still maintaining the look of more traditional comic art instead of going for a more “photo realistic” approach that has been done in many of the other sci-fi comics I’ve read. There is a lot of detail to add that “covered in technology” look to the setting, but it’s never so cluttered that information is lost because too much is going on in each panel. Equally important is the ability to, more or less, discern the purpose of a thing or item just by seeing it.
Man Plus is written and illustrated by André Lima Araújo and is being published by Titan Comics. Issue 1 can be purchased via Comixology or your Local Comic Shop for $3.99. As this series started as a web comic, you can follow it on its website. All in all, I enjoyed this series and will certainly give it up through the first or second arc to see where it goes.
A good sci-fi story that promises to hold your attention as you dig further into the importance of a creepy looking android.