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August 20, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Biomega vol. 3

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Biomega
Author: Tsutomu Nihei
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 3 (of six), $12.99
Vintage: 2007 by Shueisha in Japan, August 10, 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: Science fiction, horror, action, cyber punk

I apologize in advance for the awkwardness of this review.  I was completely lost reading this book; nothing made any sense, I had no idea what was supposed to be going on, or who these people were, etc.  It doesn’t speak well for the title, because it’s not as if I’m jumping in at the middle of a long series; it’s only the third volume.  It’s a jumbled mess of initially impressive art and very little text.  That’s pretty much the sum of my review, but that’s hardly a “review,” therefore….

A virus (known as N5SV) is ripping through the human population, turning them into something akin to zombies.  That’s the extent of what I understand is going on in this book.  It doesn’t affect synthetics, which means the main characters of Biomega remain virus free.  The volume opens with an unnamed soldier (probably named in another volume, but his name never comes up here), seemingly sent by Niarudi to investigate a secret laboratory under the control of General Narein.  Narein’s guard quickly dispatches him.  Meanwhile, TOA security officer Nishu Mizunoe and the talking bear Kozlov track down an old doctor looking for a lead on Leif, whom they are trying to find before the DRF.  They’re attacked by the DRF and several drones (created by the virus), and a strange liquid that was released attaches to the drones and the buildings, engulfing them in…I’m not really sure.  It’s later explained to be a reverse morphic polymer that absorbs nonliving material and reconfigures the base matter.  Niarudi, the DRF’s Matriarch, wants to use it to improve the Earth’s environment and create a new world.  Yeah, your guess is as good as mine.  Everything is pointing to the Continental Geostationary Satellite, a safe haven from the virus and the polymer, where TOA agent Zoichi Kanoe is already headed.  It’s a race against time (and massive explosions) as Niarudi’s DRF forces launch an attack on Narein’s forces at the MSCF.  Zoichi zooms through the battle to find Eon Green (a girl who is the key to salvation), as Niarudi moves to shut down Narein’s attempts at immortality.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Kozlov.

Viz does absolutely nothing to make this easier to read.  There are no liner notes, no glossary, no character round up, and the cover summary leaves much to be desired.  The story is a mess of techno-babble, strange terms, and acronyms, and you’re just expected to “get it.”  The main characters are drawn remarkably well (specifically Zoichi and Nishu), but the rest is just as complicated at the text, and it’s hard to tell what’s going on, or who (or what) some of the other people (if they’re people) are.  It seems like this would be a really interesting title, but it suffers from an overly complex plot and artwork.  Or maybe it’s not the plot itself that’s the problem, but rather the lack of any sensible dialog.  The book is mostly visual, with lots of explosions, strange creatures, large blobs, and plenty of action.  A quick flip through the pages makes it look intriguing, but a page by page read leaves not much other than confusion behind.

If you’re a big fan of apocalyptic zombie viruses (maybe you’re a Resident Evil fan, for example), perhaps if you started from the first volume, you might find something here.  For the casual reader, or someone looking for a deep story, well, you can pass on this without remorse.  Volume 4 comes out in November (it was listed in August’s Previews).

Next week: Natsume Ono, ninja goodies from Yen Press, and an early look at the upcoming volume of Bleach.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.