Biomega Volume 1 by Tsutomu Nihei
I’ve been meaning to read Biomega ever since Kevin posted this lovely panel, go look at it if you haven’t read the series yet, then come back!
I think that there are some defining questions you can use to get a sense of someone’s personality – Beatles or Elvis? Mac or PC? Red Sox or Yankees? Taking bear with gun or no talking bear with gun? Either you are the type of person to find the idea of a talking bear holding a machine gun intrinsically delightful, or you are not. And if you don’t like talking bears with machine guns, I’m not sure if we can still be friends anymore.
In Biomega the future has turned into a dark, moody zombie apocalypse. Humanity has been infected by a horrible virus that turns most people into a gooey shambling undead army, but a few precious people are able to contract the virus and still retain their humanity along with super-healing powers. Zoichi Kanoe is a kick-ass artificial human on a mission. His mission appears to be driving a motorcycle awesomely and shooting zombies even more awesomely. Zoichi finds Eon Green, a girl who is able to accommodate the N55 virus, along with her protector the talking bear Kozlov L. Grebnev. Zoichi loses Eon and goes to get her back.
Dialog in Biomega serves more as random punctuation for a parade of fight scenes and dystopic scenery. Fortunately Nihei happens to be really good at drawing run-down urban backgrounds and bullets hitting people and zombies in the head. What makes Biomega better than your typical zombie tale is all the inexplicable elements that seem initially weirdly out of place yet function just right within the story. Why is Eon inexplicably wearing a bear costume when she’s captured? Why does her tower home look like it has been transplanted into the future from London? I don’t particularly care about the reasons why because it is all so lovely to look at.
Zoichi’s interactions with Kozlov L. Grebnev are hilarious and wonderful action pieces that could only work in the comics medium. Usually I tend to get annoyed when manga is too dark, but in Biomega’s case it serves to enhance the feeling of darkness in the world the characters inhabit. If I’d read a lot of zombie comics, or if Biomega didn’t feature a talking bear I’d probably be a little less interested in this title. Fortunately now I know I can pick up the next volume when I’m in the mood for some good old-fashioned head exploding violence.