Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PLUTO by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka - part 1

Here's part 1 of another series of post that originally ran over at In the Mouth of Dorkness. A site definitely worth checking out. Matt and Brad update daily - multiple times - discussing movies, role playing, comics, and linking to a lot of cool "dork art" that is hidden among the digital forests of the internet.

Back when Warren Ellis’s THE ENGINE website was running, I remember a number of people on there praising Naoki Urasawa’s PLUTO and lamenting the fact that, at the time, it was only available as a “scanlation” for American audiences to read. Thankfully, Viz Media got the rights to publish a translated version here in America in 8 volumes. Given the number of people praising this book, including Tim Callahan at CBR, I picked up the first volume.

And I was hooked.

I’ve always been a science fiction fan – that sense of wonder and new and exciting ideas has always appealed to me, whether it be in the form of hard science fiction or more fantastical sci-fi – and this was right up my alley. A re-imagining of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy series, and specifically the storyline “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” PLUTO is a wonderfully exciting story – with robots clashing, a mystery surrounding who or what is responsible for the attacks on the most advanced robots on earth, and political undertones that added a very sinister layer to the mix – and this first volume was one of the best things I had read in a long, long time.

I managed to get the next three volumes after Christmas, and found them just as enjoyable. I was anxious to get the final four volumes to see how this story ended. It had been a while since I’d looked forward to a comic story. Despite my enjoyment of Jonathan Hickman’s recent work at Marvel, neither his FF nor his SHIELD had excited my imagination like PLUTO.

BUT . . .

Then I read some remarks online, which I cannot find now, from someone whose opinion I trust, of how disappointing she had found the ending of PLUTO. And I was justifiably worried. The hardest thing to do with a story is “stick the ending.” As an example, I love Stephen King’s works (it’s a bylaw up here in Maine), but I have felt that some of his books might have been served better if he’d only lopped off those final 100 pages or so.

Another prime example, for me, is James Cameron’s True Lies, which, when it first came out, was one of the best Bond movies to hit theaters in a long time. But that final “plot twist” used up all my suspension of disbelief for that film. It should have ended when Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis came together with the other agents after the “bridge scene.” But when they discovered their daughter was kidnapped and they had to continue chasing Aziz, I was done. But up to that point, I had enjoyed the hell out of that movie.

I didn’t let this discourage me, though, and purchased the final four volumes of PLUTO when the opportunity arose. And when they arrived, I read them within a couple weeks.

So, did Urasawa stick the landing, or did he fall flat on his face?

I’ll discuss that next time.


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