Written by Andre Lima Araujo | Art by Andre Lima Araujo | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
I’m not entirely convinced Man Plus knows what it wants to be yet. Is it deliberately playing around with concepts and genres until it finds the ones that fit together the best, or is creator/writer/ artist Andre Lima Araujo so confident in his vision that he is happy throwing everything into the pot as and when he chooses? Cyberpunk, anime, manga, police procedural, thriller, action, noir, and straightforward sci-fi; you name it, it’s had a turn in the first two issues. On another occasion, with another book, I would be complaining about how messy such a mosaic of genres is, but Araujo pulls it off very well.
Olissipo City is certainly an interesting place, only slowing becoming fully realised but no less intriguing for that. On paper it is standard fare, the typical city of the future run by dastardly corporations, but at least peopled by characters who breathe life into it, and Araujo throws in lots of little visual side scenes to make it feel a living, breathing place that exists even outside of the main story. The main story though is obviously why we are reading, and this issue gets straight into the aftermath of the attacks from last issue, and the police trying to track down who is helping them by sending anonymous, encrypted messages, messages that also tell them not to harm the female android.
As it happens, the police and the cyborg mercenaries working for the governing corporation all converge on the same place at the same time wanting to get their hands on the female android. The cyborg soldiers get in first, badly injuring the android before the police squad jump in and all hell breaks loose. Plus, we get battlesuits! Big, chunky and oh so cool battlesuits. The action is fast and furious, and visually amazing to follow, very visceral and down and dirty, no holds barred stuff. Ultimately, the police squad wins the day, but the cyborg mercenaries escape with their prize, the female android. So why exactly does everyone want a piece of the android? Turns out the android is something special.
The android body housed the consciousness of somebody’s wife which was uploaded after she died, something obviously so ethically wrong the corporation could not have anyone finding out about it, hence the cyborg heavies sent after her. The reason she had been attacking people is that the uploaded consciousness had been conflicting with the inbuilt AI, causing erratic behaviour. She was, it seems, an experiment in immortality. I can almost hear the Blade Runner music as I type, clearly an inspiration here. A clever way by Araujo to add some depth to his sci-fi yarn. We now know what’s going on, who’s doing what and why, so now most of the suspense is out of the way it will be interesting to see if Araujo can sustain his premise on action and dramatic tension alone. I wouldn’t bet against it.
Again, not a bad word to be said about the artwork, perfectly suited in style and substance to the story, and panels filled with a ton of detail, both relevant and not. The background detail give nice weight to the art, and shows the art is every bit as important as plot and script.
Three issues in, and we’ve just stepped up a gear. A nice issue to keep the ‘this is great stuff’ streak going. Should be an interesting next issue.
Man Plus #3 is out now from Titan Comics