A quick word of warning: though I won’t go into much detail, if any at all, by necessity there may be some aspects of this review that give away or hint at big moments from previous volumes. Anyone not at this point should just walk away now with the urge to get there as soon as possible.
All of the conflicts in Naoki Urasawa’s stunning take on Tezuka are gradually coming together and, with only three volumes to go after this one, the kettle is really starting to whistle. Inspector Gesicht is struggling both with his duty to protect the robot-hating Adolf and his own internal questions, a lot of which have to do with actions from the past that continue to haunt his daily existence. Because of this, he once again seeks some kind of answer from the kind of robot he must never become.
Meanwhile, Atom is still, for all intents and purposes, down for the count, and Professor Tenma is hit with mixed emotions as the only man with the potential to revive him. Not only are his own feelings regarding Atom’s origin coming into play, but the only course of action to save him hold potentially dire consequences.
Layered atop all of this is the unstoppable force of dread, Pluto. Even when the imposing shadow isn’t present, the tension is there, and the volume kicks off with one of the most revealing confrontations yet, taking place between the titular maelstrom and the mighty Hercules. As the volume goes on, we finally get a glimmer of insight into who or what Pluto may be, which naturally leads to the kind of curse-the-skies cliffhanger we’ve all come to expect from the series.
Urasawa and Nagasaki have the power to make it seem like something big is brewing in even the most quiet of scenes, and subsequent moments typically reinforce that, indeed, there was something major under the surface all along. It’s also worth noting how naturally certain characters have developed over just a few volumes, with Gesicht being the most fleshed out and flawed—a standout example of the current state of robots as the series establishes them—though we don’t yet know where his path will lead next.
At this point I’m married to reviewing each volume of Pluto, not because I think the series needs some eternal record of my appraisal, but because I’d like to keep sending out reminders to potential new readers. I’ll be happy if even one new person picks up the series, but I consider it mandatory reading for all with even a glimmer of interest in comics.
Publisher: Viz Media
Story: Naoki Urasawa with Takashi Nagasaki
Art: Naoki Urasawa
©2005 Naoki URASAWA / Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI and Tezuka Productions