Story and Art by Tsutomu Nihei. $12.99. Publisher: Viz Media
In a frightening vision of the future, man’s quest for immortality has yielded an unfortunate accident: the N5S virus. Not only does this contagion transmute humans into drone-like zombies, but the corporation responsible for the virus, the Data Recovery Foundation, has proclaimed itself the new world government and seeks to infect all humans. In their tyrannical scheme, they see this monstrous change as a purification of the human race. And for those few humans whose natural biology is adapting the virus, the company is out to get them!
Ironically, however, mankind’s last hope rests with Toha Heavy Industries, whose synthetic humans aim to save these virus-resistant humans from the hands of the DRF. One agent in particular, Zoichi Kanoe and his A.I. companion Fuyu, are proving to be a painful thorn in the DRF’s side.
Guns, zombies, A.I., gene manipulation, a talking bear, and girls whose sex appeal oddly stems from the discolored trappings woven from an industrial cyberpunk thread: what more do you need?
Okay, I’m sure upon hearing the word “zombie” and “virus,” you might roll your eyes. Over the past few years we’ve been inundated with movies and games that revolve around a common premise: humans turned zombie from a virus must be fantastically killed by the survivors. Whether it is the Resident Evil series, I am Legend, the popular Left 4 Dead game, or even the brilliantly comic Zombieland, we know the zombie scenario. Better yet, we know how to kill them!
Now, stepping into such an overly used and abused field – I mentioned just a fraction of the films out there, not even the original Dawn of The Dead and its spinoffs – is tricky, if not dangerous. The ground is so worn you’re likely to trip and fall. And while audiences respond well to recycled plot structures and stock characters, they quickly recognize poor copying and cliché writing. Fortunately Biomega takes us in a new direction.
What I like about this manga is the depth of its story. This isn’t just about zombies and ways of killing them. They’re actually drones being manipulated by a corporation bent on domination. Next, add the mysteries surrounding the foundation and true agenda of both the Data Recovery Foundation and Toha Heavy Industries, which are constantly alluded to, and there’s clearly an uncertain story line that will be developed. Consequently, you have a context in which to get attached to a character like Zoichi. Obviously a skilled agent, he brings the action; the zombie-killing you love to see. But his journey, along with fellow agent Nishu Mizunoe, is more about unlocking the intricacies and intrigue that form the foundation of Nihei’s post-modern world, not to mention his place in it.
Yes, there’s actually a story here that complements the death and mayhem! Even the talking Bear, the product of gene manipulation and the search for immortality, has something to tell you. And with each volume you learn a little more, and you’re definitely entertained.
A fresh addition to the cyberpunk genre, Biomega pushes our wild fantasies and vision of the postmodern future, albeit depressing and frightening, forward. It’s stuff like this that inspires younger artists to create something better, if not crazier!