Written by Andre Lima Araujo | Art by Andre Lima Araujo | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
Our introduction to Olissipo City last issue was an interesting one. Olissipo City is a city created and run by corporations in the near future, a pretty familiar concept in cyberpunk/ manga/ anime but handled really well here by Andre Lima Araujo, the creator/ writer/ artist. What elevated it that little extra bit was the addition of genres that in lesser hands may have jarred a little, but here just felt organic and natural. We got a touch of noir, a touch of police procedural, and some (more expected) sci-fi action adventure. It was a good set-up, including the introduction of several groups of characters whom we had yet to know enough about to know if they were on the good or bad sides, or if everyone was a bit of both.
Issue 2 is always a little tricky if you left the issue before on a clever cliffhanger. You can’t cheat the reader who came back for the payoff, and yet you can’t let enough slip that readers aren’t intrigued enough to hang around for more reveals. Araujo just about balances that well here, by resuming the confrontation/ meeting between the mysterious damaged female android and the police teased at the end of last issue, but having her (it?) escape quickly. The illusion of change. The overall sense of familiarity with this near-future world is further deepened by the addition of that staple, the ‘hacker’. To be fair to Araujo, ‘Dragon’ Lee at least seems to be a character with personality, and not your typical young computer whizzkid; he is ,rather, a cranky old man.
As the police procedural aspect takes centre stage we start to learn a little more about the major players. The heavily armed guys tracking the android turn out to be cyborg mercenaries apparently working for the most important man in Olissipo City, the CEO of the corporation running most of it, Georgios Karagounis. The female android is also one designed and built by his corporation. Chief Elsa, the tough as nails boss of the police squad we have been following, wastes no time in confronting him, a very dangerous move in a city where the corporations control everything including the Police. Karagounis doesn’t like getting called out in public and puts a kill notice on the police officers, as things start getting all Bourne Ultimatum and thriller-esque.
As with the first issue, part of me wants to see more originality here, more to distance it from the genres and formats that have clearly inspired Araujo. Sometimes in such cases it is hard to distinguish between homage and just copying. That being said, Araujo handles his material well, mixing it all nicely together, juggling several plotlines at the same time that will in time clearly intersect and line up together. We learnt a little more about the main players and the parts they are playing, though enough is still there to be explored and solved. Why, for example, does the female android call one of the mercenaries (admittedly the only one who seemingly doesn’t want her hurt) ‘my love?’. Interesting stuff.
The artwork again was excellent, Araujo matching his excellent script and dialogue with some nice pacing, clean art, great layouts and some impressive large panels. The art looks deceivingly simple at times, but when you look closely you appreciate the craftsmanship.
After two issues, a good, solid read and a book on the cusp of being very good, excellent even. Araujo knows where he is heading, and it’s worth going along for the ride. At the very least there’ll be some fun things to see on the way.
Man Plus #2 is out now from Titan Comics