Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pluto Volume 8

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Pluto Volume 8 (Viz, 2010)

Pluto has finally ended, and I'm sorry to see it go. This was a genuinely terrific adventure, one which never outlasted its welcome or felt overlong. Naoki Urusawa can take a bow; this was among the best comics of the last decade.

If you were among those oddballs who failed to jump on board while it was ongoing, you might have missed what we were raving about. I described it last year as a "simply expert blend of detective fiction, classicist science fiction and big robots knocking the bejezus out of each other." It's actually a revisionist expansion of a celebrated Astro Boy adventure by Osamu Tezuka, in which some unknown force has been eliminating both the greatest and most powerful robots on the planet along with robot-friendly scientists. Only another robot could destroy the heroic droids who previously brought an end to a worldwide war, but robots are programmed never to harm humans, so the detective Gesicht has a dangerous problem on his hands, one that threatens to plunge the world into darkness.

If Pluto has a failing at all, it's that book six could have been the conclusion and I would have been satisfied. Sure, it would have meant one heck of a bleak ending, and one quite opposed to the always optimistic Tezuka's worldview, but Urusawa created a climax there which knocked me for a loop. Honestly, the real ending, while still quite satisfying, just doesn't have the emotional resonance of the earlier moment. There's an unexpected epilogue with a hell of a payoff, too. If you enjoy mysteries, comics or old-school SF, there's a lot in Pluto to surprise you. Strongly recommended.

No comments: