cover image Mobile Suit Gundam: cole du Ciel, Volume 1

Mobile Suit Gundam: cole du Ciel, Volume 1

Haruhiko Mikimoto, . . Tokyopop, $9.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-59532-851-9

This installment in the long-running Gundam manga/anime series tells more about the increasingly powerful humanoid armored machines (called mobile suits) that humans wear during a protracted interstellar conflict. The story focuses more on machinery than people, with a rudimentary, perfunctory plot involving a Canadian academy where young people learn to operate their mobile suits. In particular, 15-year-old Asuna Elmarit is an underachieving student who must learn to care more about her fighting skills than her budding body and lack of popularity. This installment of the story vaguely hints at the tension between the Federation and the Principality of Zeon that soon will erupt into war, and it also contains references to the "newtype" humans with psionic powers—including hints that Asuna has talents that she must be pressured into discovering. But the book really comes to life when the kids climb into their giant metal shells and start slugging and blasting one another. Mikimoto is famed for his design work here and on Macross , and his fractured pages full of scratchy energy show that his mighty robots are more interesting than the small, timid creatures who inhabit them. (Sept.)