EDEN Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59307-454-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

EDEN Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     February 28, 2006
Release Date: February 01, 2006

EDEN Vol.#02
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hiroki Endo
Translated by:Kumar Sivasubramanian
Adapted by:

What They Say
Graphic, cyberpunk, and philosophical, Eden is a place where endearing heroes face a constant struggle for survival and violent surprises wait around every corner! After a large portion of humanity is wiped out by a brutal, new virus, an organization known as the Propator seeks to wrest control of the world from the United Nations. Elijah, a young survivor with immunity to the virus, crosses paths with a group of supposed freedom fighters. His companion, an artificially intelligent combat robot named Cherubim, is appropriated and reprogrammed, and Elijah is pulled into a world of relentless peril and intrigue! Cybernetic enhancements! Extreme violence! This breathtaking ride is just getting started!

The Review
Avoiding the sophomore slump, the second installment of EDEN offers more action, more character development, and more revelations surrounding the characters and their world. This is a title to look out for in 2006.

The cover is exactly the same as the original Japanese tankoubon release, with only the creator’s name translated into English at the bottom. It’s another gorgeous illustration with wonderfully painted colors that look great with the matte finish. There is also a nice color illustration on the back cover as well. The book is shrink-wrapped with an “Explicit Content” sticker on the actual cover.

The print reproduction continues to look solid, very smooth tones and crisp lines. Some pages might look a little dark, but it is nothing that noticeable. No color pates though, but there were not any color pages to begin with. The inside of the front cover includes a nice illustration of Kenji. At the back of the book, on the inside of the back cover, there is an afterword from Hiroki Endo that continues to be a real treat, much different than the normal free talks.

A cross between Otomo’s Akira and Yukimura’s Planetes, Hiroki Endo’s realistic artwork is very detailed and clean, bringing his hard sci-fi world to life. Facial expressions have good variety with some really nice etching to highlight certain features and creating rich designs. The backgrounds are lush, even though they aren’t quite as plentiful in this volume given the increase of action. The action sequences are nicely laid out in a clear and concise manner, making for quite the intense reading at times. I do think that there is an overuse of effects lines in some of the panels.

SFX are translated! There aren’t a lot of SFX in general, but Dark Horse has subbed them with English text in a way that is not obtrusive at all. For the most part, their newer titles seem to be going this direction, so I’m glad to see this title get proper translations for the SFX. The translation continues to be very solid, capturing the more mature and dense script. There are also quite a few editors’ notes in the margins surrounding a lot of technical terms and new terms that are specific to this futuristic world.

Contents:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The previous volume introduced us to a world that had been decimated by a virus by splitting the story up into two parts. The first part served as an intense prologue to the beginnings of the Ballard family, while the second occurred 20 years later following a young boy who is trying to survive in the empty shell of a world that had been reclaimed by Mother Nature. It was not until the end of the volume that the thread between the Ballards and this young boy were realized--he is Elijah Ballard, son of Ennoia and Hannah. The pace was very aimless and filled with a lot of mundane dialogue about man’s place and God’s purpose in this new world, with no explanation of what happened during that 20 year gap. With this sophomore volume, the action is much more intense, the narrative much more focused, and there are quite a few revelations about the characters and the world they inhabit.

With his military RV and AI robot, Cherubim, now under control by a group of militant freedom fighters, Elijah Ballard is forced to cooperate with the group if he wants to stay alive. He is not treated badly, for fear of what his father will do, but with a cybernetic AI hacker, a former Army explosives expert, a violent psychotic weapons expert, all led by a former colonel--this is a group that probably should be feared. They are all trying to cross the Andes Mountains, out of Propater controlled territory (called Gnosia), with their first major obstacle a heavily armed, guerrilla operated way station. Only twenty pages into the book and the action kicks in quite heavily.

After taking over the way station, the group comes across a couple of women, one a professional hooker and the other a young native village girl who was recently forced into prostitution. Both have been forced to stay at the guerilla camp as “comfort women” as the result of ethnic cleansing. Helena, who was raised in the gutters learning prostitution from her mother as her only means of survival, is an outspoken woman who has issues with trust and believes the only salvation is that one day life has to get better. Kachua is much more of an innocent girl who has a lot of faith in her God, but now has been thrown into a horrible life of prostitution. Together they are forced to stay with the group, with the same promise of being let go as was given to Elijah, until they are able to survive their standoff with the arriving Propater arsenal in the form of helicopters.

Sandwiched between the way station takeover and the Propater standoff at the end of the volume (which ends in a mighty cliffhanger), there are a lot of revelations and character development that help flesh out these characters quite a bit more. It becomes clearer that the weight Elijah has on his shoulders is quite burdensome, as we find out that his father is the head of a major drug cartel and whose mother was trying to rescue him and his younger sister from that lifestyle. There is a nice flashback sequence here that sets up why Elijah is possibly on the run and on his own, events I’m sure we will revisit again at a later time. Elijah wants nothing to do with his father’s name, as he wished to be called by his mother’s maiden name “Mayall”, but he still is unable to escape the death and corruption his father has caused. When Helena joins the group, she tells Elijah some stories about how the woman of her town are turned into prostitutes and forced into a horrible life because of the drugs his father is pushing into the villages. It is quite a powerful scene that is quite a bit to handle for a 15-year-old boy, not to mention all the other events going on around the world.

The pace of story continues to be a real bright spot for me as well. As complex of a world as Hiroki Endo has created here, he could have easily filled the dialogue with a lot of contrived disclosure that the reader could just easily read up on. Instead, I feel as though Endo is letting the reader experience this world themselves through shocking reactions and emotions that his characters also experience. We might not know all the dark secrets of the Colonel and his group of freedom fighters, but through their reactions and dialogue we get a good feel for their personalities and hidden dark sides. Also, by not completely understanding what they are running from or to, we are able to feel the intensity and seriousness of the Propater attack. Endo just seems more content with letting his reader experience this story through emotions and feelings, rather than just providing an essay that would have felt cold.

For those of you left wanting more out of the slower-paced previous volume, this second installed should put that appetite to rest. Starting off with a big bang and closing with practically a full-on war, complete with cliffhanger ending, EDEN not only provides us with a lot of action and excitement, but also some nice moments of character development and some much needed information surrounding the Ballard family and the current situation of the world. That being said, Hiroki Endo is not out to explain everything with pages upon pages of dissertation. Instead he lets out little nuggets of info as it is needed, a technique which allows a reader to understand the feelings of suspense and immediacy that the characters themselves are also going through. Endo wants you to feel the bleakness and harshness of his world, rather than read about it.

If I had one complaint, it would be that the philosophical discourse can at times feel a bit too planned. It is nowhere near as heavy-handed as something like Ghost in the Shell, but the talks about faith and God’s relationship with the world do occur at times that are plainly obvious. For me though, this is something that actually occurs quite frequently with a lot sci-fi in general, so I’m not really surprised. The characters’ beliefs are also never forced upon the reader, but rather their conversations are used to get a better understanding of them.

Dark Horse continues to release a solid product here as well, with solid printing, SFX translations, nice looking cover, quality translation, and the inclusion of Hiroki Endo’s afterword on the inside of the back cover. The artwork is just solid with a lot of nice detail and clean line and tone work. This volume proved to me that the first volume wasn’t just a fluke. EDEN looks to be for real and one of the better titles coming out in 2006. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


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