A sci-fi/superhero OEL manga that's a little typical, but still lots of fun.
Created by: Chuck Russel and Michael Uslan
Script by: Jay Antani
Art by: Matt Hentschel
What They Say:
My name is Vox. I am the last surviving member of an underground resistance. Our mission: expose and destroy a vast and sinister plot to take over planet Earth. Aliens have infiltrated the Earth's entire political, industrial, military and socio-industrial complex. They are determined to extinguish life on our planet.
Since birth, the five of you were fated to receive this message. You are possessed of extraordinary abilities... Logan, you have superior strength and superhuman intuition. Leelee, no Olympian has ever had your level of agility. Jenna and Jamie, your parents knew of your telekinesis and ESP when you were still children. Tony, your intellect is off the charts. The entire world needs you. You must use your talents to join together and stop this invasion... and in doing so, the five of you will become... The Myserians!
What We Say:
The cover for The Mysterians does a decent job at arousing intrigue. It's detailed, coloured nicely and reflects the supernatural element of the manga. The expressions of the characters, who are undergoing bodily transformations, even reflects their personality (hence why “tough guy” Logan looks terrified while the bold Jamie looks thrilled at the prospect of becoming something more than human).
Volume one of the Mysterians also features some bonus fanart at the end of the volume, though there's not much bonus content beyond that.
Anyone who reads comics on a regular basis won't be blown away by Matt Hentschel's attempts to do something new with his style, but it's definitely competent and non-offensive. There's careful detail in each panel, and Hentschel doesn't skimp on the backgrounds. The lines are clean and overall it's a pleasant package to look at. The anime influence is obvious, but The Mysterians' artwork doesn't go overboard with stereotypical traits like big eyes, wacky expressions and speedlines. It's content with doing its own thing.
Much like the manga's artwork, the writing in The Mysterians won't win any awards for original concepts, but the characters are amiable and the story is cheesy sci-fi fun. There's the tough jock who's destined to be leader even though he washes his hands of the whole event at first, there's the psychic sisters, the nerdy dude and the little Asian girl who can flip like a wind-up toy. And, of course, there are the bad guys: pollution-sucking aliens who are distracting us with television, movies the Internet (and manga?) while they make themselves busy by “terraforming” the planet through global warming. Though a typical sentai team all-around, the characters have classic skeletons packed into their closets (abandonment, abuse, a close call with molestation) to make them interesting enough to follow. Being an OEL manga, The Mysterians has no issue with sound effect translation, though “leap!” is kind of a weak onomatopoeia.
Aliens are subtly taking over Earth by disguising themselves as humans, moving into positions of power and giving the thumbs-up to sludge-dumping and air pollution. The invaders have become experts at blending into human society—and shutting up people who know a little too much.
Necessity has driven the leader of the Resistance, Vox, to recruit the children of her former soldiers, good men and women who have all been cut down by the aliens. The successors, Logan, Leelee, Jamie, Jenna and Tony, are reluctant at first , but as the danger to Earth becomes more apparent, they come to learn that the Planet needs them—and they need each other.
The Mysterians delivered a nice surprise for my cynical self. Sad as it is to say, I'm cautious about OEL manga; though I'm familiar with some excellent series, most are medicore at best. Typically, OEL manga writers work too hard to ape Japanese art and culture without cultivating their own ideas. The Mysterians' premise isn't exactly original, but its focus is on action and superhero antics. I wasn't blown away, but I had fun reading what I was given.
That said, the manga can do without a few cliches, most of which centre around the “leader,” Logan. Mommy issues are one thing, but snowboarding off the tops of moving buses? Sure, he's not a typical human being, but is that the kind of thing you should be doing in broad daylight with everyone watching?