EDEN Vol [twitter]6/9/2013 5:30:19 PM
´╗┐EDEN Vol What They Say In the near future, a large portion of humanity is wiped out by a brutal, new virus that hardens the skin while dissolving internal organs. Those who aren't immune are either severely crippled or allowed to live with cybernetically enhanced bodies. Taking advantage of a world in chaos, a paramilitary force known as the Propater topples the United Nations and seeks world domination. Elijah, a young survivor searching for his mother, travels towards the Andes Mountains with an artificially intelligent combat robot. When he encounters a group of anti-Propater freedom fighters, a maelstrom of unique characters unfolds. Graphic, cyberpunk, and philosophical, Eden is a place where endearing heroes face a constant struggle for survival and violent surprises wait around every corner! The Review I am a big fan of hard sci-fi. I am also a huge fan of apocalyptic stories. Hiroki Endo EDEN has them both and fully delivers on all my expectations and then some, create a bleak landscape where his characters will have to face some harsh realities. Packaging: The cover is exactly the same as the original Japanese tankoubon release, with only the creator name translated into English at the bottom. It a gorgeous illustration featuring Ennoia and Hannah lying around Cherubim and amongst a bunch of wires. The coloring is fantastic and really shines with the cover. There are also some nice color illustrations on the back cover as well. The book is shrink-wrapped with an Content sticker on the actual cover. The print reproduction looks great, very smooth and crisp for all shades of tones. No color pates though. The backgrounds are lush, from the technical laboratories to the giant cities covered in shrubbery. There also a good amount of detail put into all the mechanized objects and people. He also just does a wonderful job putting together a group of panels and directing a scene masterfully. Great work. Text/SFX: SFX are translated! There aren a lot of SFX in this volume, but Dark Horse has subbed them with English text in a way that is not obtrusive. Their newer titles seem to be going this direction, so I glad to see this title get proper translations for the SFX. The translation is very solid, really capturing the philosophic nature of the dialogue when it there. Also, there are quite a few editor notes in the margins surrounding all the biological terms and government agency acronyms which really helps with the reading. Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead): At some undetermined time in the future, humanity has breathed its last breath as a virus decimates all of mankind by hardening their skin and turning their insides into mush. By following three generations of the Ballard family in this debut volume, we are able to learn much about both the causes and effects of this viral cataclysm. The landscape on planet Earth has forever changed, taken away from mankind and given back to Mother Nature. EDEN is a tale of apocalyptic hard sci-fi, Gnostic allegory, and existentialist meanings. How will the survivors of such a catastrophe survive in a land that is no longer theirs? The first 100+ pages of the volume are a single chapter that is the prologue of events that placed humanity at the end of the world, bouncing between two time periods surrounding a climatic event. Set on some undisclosed island, a homosexual scientist named Layne Morris and his two surrogate children, Ennoia and Hannah, live out their lives alone in a habitat that was built to preserve the human race by specialized breeding in order create offspring that would be immune to the virus. It is a place that used to be bustling with children and scientists, but now only these three remain and are unsure if there are any other living humans in the world. Through well-placed flashbacks, we begin to get an understanding of the stresses the world nations were under while trying to deal with this epidemic as military officers make their way to the habitat, which after a little espionage and treason has turned into a desolate Garden of Eden. This habitat is essentially one scientist creation of that myth, and Ennoia and Hannah are the venerable Adam and Eve as they believe that they are the only two humans left on Earth that are immune to the virus as well as capable of reproduction. It actually somewhat unsettling hearing these young teens talk about their duty to reproduce in the future, and how they will need to find others to keep from inbreeding. But that is what makes this title so engaging and the characters so interesting. They are faced with harsh realities that will force them to make harsher decisions, but some decisions carry much different weight than they would have prior to this virus breakout. A little chat about how to reproduce in such a mechanical fashion is no different than talking about what to have for dinner. Set twenty years later, the rest of the volume follows a young boy named Elijah as he goes about his daily routines in a military RV with an adaptive intelligent robot named Cherubim located somewhere in South America near the Andes. The pace slowly meanders through this boy life as he makes his way through a giant metropolis that is now dead and taken over by nature. The only other humans are already hardened carcasses, until one day a ragtag guerilla group show up looking for the body of a dead boy--a boy that Elijah found a couple days earlier with some secret data disks buried within him. Elijah now must not only worry about his survival with nature, but also the guerillas as well. As the pages turn, more and more information comes to the table about Elijah and the current situation of their surroundings. EDEN is just ripe with all sorts of philosophical discourse surrounding mankind place in the world and its relationship with nature. It not necessarily a morality tale, as much as it placing characters with their own morals into situations that will force them to make certain decisions. There is also a good amount of Gnostic references scattered throughout, which admittedly go way over my head but doing a search online will reveal a lot of interesting information to tie in with this story. The prologue is essential the Garden of Eden, where a new mankind is born again with it next evolutionary step. Many humans have tried to take that next step by fighting off the virus by trading in their flesh for cybernetic enhancements. The pace of the story also does a great job at allowing all of these very rich ideas and themes sink in, allowing the reader to take their time and really digest everything. For two chapters we follow Elijah as he does nothing but learn how to hunt and take clothing from dilapidated department stores. He is learning how to survive in a world that has truly become survival of the fittest, and all the while the reader is just absorbing the surroundings and almost being goaded into a sense of false security. Then at the most unsuspecting moment, the mood is jolted as Elijah finds himself underneath a knife or in front of a dog with an amputated limb in its mouth--a change that happens instantly from one panel to the next. This seems to be a technique that Hiroki Endo excels at. He allows the reader to get comfortable with the current scenario, only to throw a shocking page flip or panel change that had me gasping on a few occasions. I never felt so relaxed and tense at the same time while reading a manga. Comments With Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and other hard science fiction manga already under their belt, it no surprise that Dark Horse is putting out another seinen title from the genre. EDEN has been talked up by many as one of the better manga currently being released in Japan, and so far I definitely inclined to agree with that statement. Mixing philosophical discourse with Gnostic references, Hiroki Endo creates a fascinating setup to a bleak and apocalyptic manga. There will no doubt still be a lot of questions after this volume, but I have no fear that things will be explained as the story progresses. The pace is slow but it allows time for the reader to fully digest both the dialogue and richly illustrated panels. He also knows how to really engage the reader, pulling them in with a false sense of peace only to stir things up at a moment instant with a page flip and panel change. It is quite an interesting feeling, being both calm and tense at the same time while reading a story. As far as setting up the mood and other elements of this future world decimated by a killer virus, Hiroki Endo succeeds with what is probably the most impressive debut volume that I have read this year. This one goes straight to the top of the buy list.