Pluto Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Greg Hackmann
Review Date: Thursday, June 25, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Still $13 a pop for a tiny chunk of story development.  And still worth it.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Naoki Urusawa
Translation: Jared Cook and Frederick L. Schodt
Adaptation: Jared Cook and Frederick L. Schodt

What They Say
In a distant future where sentient humanoid robots pass for human, someone or some thing is out to destroy the seven great robots of the world. Europol�s top detective Gesicht is assigned to investigate these mysterious robot serial murders�"the only catch is that he himself is one of the seven targets.

Atom, a boy robot whose sophisticated AI programming seamlessly blurs the distinction between man and machine, starts his own investigation into the serial murders of the great robots of the world. When he discovers that the killer�s motives may be connected with the geopolitical events of the recent past, he realizes that the case is far larger than anyone could have ever imagined.

The Review!
Even though Atom is still been downgraded to a supporting character in the second volume of Pluto, he plays a much more substantial role here than in the last volume.  After Gesicht meets with Pluto to chat and exchange memory chips, he effectively ducks out of the story for a few chapters while Pluto independently assists the police with the murder investigations.  Urasawa still isn't giving much away about what's going on, despite having Atom add another perspective to the case; he voices the same doubts as Gesicht about the killer being a robot, as improbable as it seems that a human could cause so much destruction.

Atom does, however, uncover one clue that ties the cases more closely to the 39th Central Asian War, which Volume 1 mentioned in passing but never really expanded upon.  The seven robots being targeted by the killer all played a key part in the war's invading party, which bears an uncanny close resemblance to the real-world U.S. invasion of Iraq; swap out a few names of leaders and nations, and they're basically identical.  This bit of the story is unfortunately a rare (at least so far) misstep for the series; it's not the subject matter that bothers me so much as the narrative practically beating the reader over the head with the comparison to Iraq.  I've come to expect a lot more subtlety out of Urasawa than this.

Looking past that, the second volume of Pluto is still a solid read.  I really like what Urasawa's doing with some of the psychological themes, like the malleability of robot memories; even if they aren't entirely new ideas to the science fiction genre, they're handled well here and make up a fascinating on Tezuka's material.  Readers who liked Volume 1 of Pluto shouldn't hesitate to pick up this release.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 12.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1421519197
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Pluto