cover image No. 5., Vol. 1

No. 5., Vol. 1

Taiyo Matsumoto, trans. from the Japanese by Michael Arias. Viz, $22.99 trade paper (318p) ISBN 978-1-974720-76-7

Matsumoto (Ping Pong) employs his experimental, artsy manga style to contagiously fun effect as he concocts a bizarre far-future world. No. 5, a superhuman soldier gone rogue, kills his comrade No. 9 and kidnaps a strange young woman known as Matryoshka (who is beloved by all creatures and endlessly eats). The other members of their Rainbow Brigade, an elite group of internationally celebrated supersoldiers with unique skills and powers, get tasked by their leader with hunting down No. 5 and bringing him to justice. Frequent references to ancient human history imply that this universe is a potential future of Earth, which Matsumoto renders in vivid detail through whimsical architecture, landscapes, and hybrid animals, as well as diverse societies that have popped up around this world. The art shows evident influence from Moebius and Katsuhiro Otomo; its gloriously detailed panels will make aspiring cartoonists want to doodle their own dreamscapes. Since it’s the first volume of a longer saga, many questions are left unanswered, but the mysteries that emerge are substantial enough that fans of Matsumoto’s idiosyncratic style will want to be in for the long haul. [em](July) [/em]