Review: Biomega Vol. 1

I came across this series completely by accident.  I was at a Super Bowl party last night and a friend of mine had brought a copy of this along with him.  I picked it up and read the blurb on the back and said to myself, “That sounds a little cheesy, but what the hell I’ll give it a shot.”  Boy was I glad I did.  Tsutomu Nihei hit it out of the park with this one.  Biomega is a series about a man (sort of) named Zoichi Kanoe and his motorcycle/AI Fuyu who try to save humanity from the victims of the N5S virus.  This is standard zombie fare, as the victims are your basic slow movers, called drones here.  Now don’t get me wrong, standard zombies are just fine by me. 

Zoichi works for Toha Heavy Industries, who created synthetic humans (like Zoichi).  With the futuristic feel of this manga, it’s sort of like Blade Runner meets Resident Evil, only the good guys are the Nexus-6s!  The unstoppable force to the Toha immovable object is the Public Health Service and their Compulsory Execution Units.  They are tasked with hunting and killing all drones and any poor bastards alive and not infected in the area.  Think Umbrella, only as a government agency instead of corporation, and that’s the feeling I get from the PHS.  It’s interesting to see this reversal of standard plot, with the corporation being the good guys and the government agency the evil bastards. 

Zoichi’s purpose is to find something called Accommodators.  What has happened is a few people can assimilate the virus and retain their sense of self and non-zombie appearance.  There are a few other interesting things to be had here.  One, there is a talking bear.  OMFG THIS IS AWESOME.  AND he carries a gun!  What more do you want?  The bear’s name is Kozlov L. Grebnev and he is the protector of a girl named Eon Green, an Accomodator.  Turns out that Toha Heavy Industries purpose is to find and protect Accomodators, the antithesis of the Public Health Services plot to find and experiment on them.  I have a feeling that this series will continue to impress me. 

The art in this series is also done by Tsutomu Nihei.  I love the art in this manga.  He gives a very dark industrial feel to the locations when necessary and a light, safe feel to the cities.  The bad guys are very stark and angular and the protagonists much more smooth and friendly.  Zoichi’s motorcycle is a sinewy black piece of sexy on two wheels.  He does a great job conveying the emotion and action from panel to panel.  Whether it’s Zoichi’s badass gun skills, or anger from Kozlov, the feelings come across even on the panels that have no words.  And there are a lot.  It seems most of the story in this first volume is told almost exclusively with the art.  He does such a great job passing on his vision of the future to our brains.  It’s a stark cyberpunk landscape and Zoichi is our runner, taking us through on his wild ride.

If you are a fan of zombies, cyberpunk or bears give this series a try.  And hell, the twist at the end will leave you ready for the next installment, you can be sure. 

Four and a half drones out of five.

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