Sirk TV Graphic Novel Review: ASTRO BOY – OMNIBUS VOL. 2 [Dark Horse]


The idea of a boy built of atomic energy but looking back on an era gone past is always an interesting reflection, especially if the actual artistry was done within times of war. Examining “Astro Boy – Omnibus – Vol 2” [Osamu Tezuka/Dark Horse/680pgs], these parallels are definitely intrinsic. A lot has to do with the progression of technology and the idea of assured destruction across the board.One story involves a time machine and the reflexive nature of how robotics will be the downfall of man due to automation. Another reflects how humans, even those with cybernetic implants, still see the robots themselves as slaves. “The Ghost Manufacturing Machine”, one of the stories, is an interesting dichotomy on Nazi Germany and Hitler but also about the exchange of scientists to help propel scientific breakthroughs. This is an interesting perception because in the late 50s Japan could likely see this exchange within the post Allied powers after World War II. It examines how Astro Boy defines progress with the scientists: the light and the dark which ultimately leads to sacrifice. “Crucifix Island”, another story, again examines the ideal of subterfuge with a secret uranium mining operation (again a play to the atomic age) and an angle that points to the black market (via gangsters). Of course, Astro Boy represents the purity of the right which again retains the idea of robots rebelling against a notion of slavery. “Space Snow Leopard”, on that same thought process, is again a metaphor on advanced technology, specifically the idea of an electromagnetic pulse since the leopard of the story “takes energy away”. “The Artificial Sun” again examines an adventure story with an interesting take on atomic energy. In this case, a device can incinerate everything around it (much like a nuclear weapon) but if used properly is a great source of energy. Another interesting thing about Osamu Tezuka, the author, is that in this volume we see him talking to his characters and himself which leads him to explain how sometimes his editors require him to cut down page count causing the abridgement of stories. The big anthology in this Omnibus is “Once Upon A Time” which is a long form story which explains some aspects of a Shonen printing Tezuka did back in the 50s. In trying to save a crashing alien from harm, Astro Boy is thrown back in time 50 years. We see his interaction with an alien locust woman who came to the earth just to have fun. He explains that being alone, lost in time, they need money and a place to live. He must keep his identity as a robot secret even as he comes into contact with the scientists that eventually create him. It is a prequel of sorts exploring the sociological and psychological implementation of robots and the reflective law. The specific use of Baro as a robot programmed to destroy himself to test an H-Bomb again shows a inherent fear on both sides. Later on with Vietnam and even the story of the butler robot Chiruchiru, Tezuka interestingly makes a perception on a current war (he wrote it in the early 60s) as well as race bias. At different points, Astro Boy is placed in stasis but it shows his personality consistency through the years and notions of conscience. This volume is interesting to look at in terms of its breath and length but also some of the themes and touchstones it explores.


By Tim Wassberg


Posted on December 23, 2015, in Other Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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