David Opie reviews Man: Plus #1…
Welcome to Olissipo City – a shimmering metropolis where technology rules with a heavy hand, cyborg strike teams are commonplace, and the lines between man and machine grow hazier every day. From artist/writer André Lima Araújo (Avengers AI, Ultimate FF, Age of Apocalypse) comes this high-octane dystopian thriller that whisks the reader into the thick of a robotic skirmish and the unsettling conspiracy that lies at its heart…
Despite the enduring popularity of Western properties like The Matrix and Blade Runner, the cyberpunk genre is still associated more readily with Japanese culture, sharing an aesthetic similar to the futuristic hi-tech environments that can be found in the sprawling metropolis of downtown Tokyo.
The cultural influence between the East and West is a two-way street, one that collides together in spectacular fashion throughout Araújo’s passion project Man: Plus. From the story’s fixation on technology to the design of its main characters, Man: Plus is certainly indebted to the likes of Akira and Ghost In The Shell, but Araújo weaves a tight narrative that transcends the cliches of the genre to become far more than the sum of its bionic parts.
Araújo is primarily known for working as an artist on a number of Marvel titles, including Avengers A.I., Spider-Verse and Ultimate FF, but his writing on Man: Plus proves that his keen eye for detail isn’t limited to his artwork, resulting in a concisely plotted introduction that effortlessly conveys everything we need to know about this new world that he’s created.
Despite threading a number of compelling mysteries through this introductory issue – Why are people chasing the android? Whose side is she on? – Araújo’s narrative is surprisingly straight-forward and would remain easy to follow even if the dialogue and captions were removed. Comic books are primarily a visual form, so it’s a testament to Araújo’s talent that he’s constructed an entire world that feels comfortably familiar within its first few pages.
Part of this is due to the dystopian setting of Man: Plus. This isn’t the first time that we’ll encounter a police procedural set in a Neo-noir future and it won’t be the last, but few feel as fully realised as this straight out of the gate. Even the most familiar noir tropes in Man: Plus are doused in bright sunlight, setting the book even further apart from other sci-fi projects currently on the shelves.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the comic book big leagues, Araújo’s art is flawless, easily holding its own among the best released in the past year. His vivid use of lines imbues each page with a kinetic energy that bounces off the page, imbuing each panel with a real sense of urgency. By uniquely combining European architecture and character design with the futuristic cyber punk visuals more often associated with anime, Araújo has constructed an utterly believable city that you will want to visit again and again.
In the space of just on issue, Araújo has set up an enticing mystery that already holds potential for further development beyond this initial run. While we would like to see the philosophical implications of this tech-based society explored in more detail further down the line, a heavy-handed exploration of identity and consciousness so early on would have unnecessarily slowed the pace down.
In a marketplace overcrowded with Ghost In The Shell knock-offs, Man: Plus immediately barrels into the readers consciousness, hitting the ground running with one of the most immersive and exciting debuts we’ve read in a long time. The intense cliffhanger at the end of #1 has made us even more eager for issue #2 to hit the stands and already, we feel that an anime adaptation can’t be far behind…
Man: Plus #1 (of 4) is currently available online here and print issues are now available from Titan Comics too.
David Opie – follow him on Twitter, add him on Facebook or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org