26th Apr2016

‘Man Plus #4′ Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Andre Lima Araujo | Art by Andre Lima Araujo | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp

man-plus-4-cover

As I’ve pointed out in my reviews of the previous issues, this is on the surface a very derivative series, mixing up a wide variety of genres but also managing to blend them together into a nice, cohesive story. Anyway, one man’s imitation is another man’s homage, is it not. What makes this melting pot of genres work is to a degree the strong, though obviously still establishing themselves, cast of characters and the living, breathing city of Olissipo City. You always get the impression that a lot is going on in that city in the background, though we are only following the main storyline ourselves. It reminds me of that classic TV show intro,  ‘There’s a million stories in the Naked City. This is just one of them’.

A lot happened last issue. We discovered that the mysterious female android was even more important than we assumed. Though the android body itself was pretty standard, it housed the uploaded consciousness of somebody’s wife, the first time it had been attempted. This was obviously both morally and ethically very wrong, and the corporation responsible was desperate not to allow this information into the public domain. The cyborg mercenaries who have been showing up regularly are working for the corporation, and last issue managed to capture and take the android from under the nose of the police who tried to intercept. Things were set up nicely for the concluding chapter.

We jump straight in this issue, as the OCPD are staking out the cyborg mercenaries and engage them again in a firefight. This time they win, in a manner of speaking. They reacquire the android, but can find nothing to tie all this to either the Jiqiren Corporation or its CEO, though both were heavily involved. That won’t stop them though, will it? Actually, yes. Yes it will. The story wrap up feels very strange indeed, as though part of the issue is missing. We have essentially a couple of epilogue sequences to close out the issue. One with the Police Captain having a Blade Runner-esque conversation with the female android about what makes a human human, essentially ‘do androids dream of electric sheep’ expanded out to several pages. Secondly, we have a Hill Street Blues type ending with all the police officers in a local bar, laughing and enjoying their down time. All that was missing was a ‘next week’ blurb and credits.

An odd end to a series that promised much. The promised examination of deep themes ended up being little more than superficial ones, ultimately just standard sci-fi tropes on top of other genres, notably cyberpunk and police procedural. I assume from the strange wrap-up this is to be the first of many planned stories, as we are left with Jiqiren Corporation and its corrupt CEO still in charge, and the female android in police custody. Whatever the reasons, the pacing felt badly off this issue which is a shame as Araujo has rarely put a foot wrong up to now. All that being said, I would still be happy to re-visit these characters in future storylines.

Deadline issues may partly explain the oddly paced conclusion, as even the art didn’t feel up to the standard of the previous issues. Not terrible by any means, but some panels, even pages, looked slightly rushed. Again, this was only noticeable as the standard has been so high up to now.

Although this issue was disappointing, under-delivering on a very promising start, as a whole this was an entertaining series. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of Olissipo City in the future, and I’m more than happy to return.

*** 3/5

Man Plus #4 is available now from Titan Comics

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