It’s 2042, and multinational corporations govern the world. Olissipo City, built in Portugal by a conglomerate of biotech companies, has become one of the world’s most prominent metropolises. But all’s not well here – anti-robot crime is on the rise.
Man: Plus, originally published online and now released in print by Titan, is a dystopian thriller from creator André Lima Araújo. This first issue sees an unknown android get attacked by a gang of cyborg criminals, only to brutally kill one and escape. A crack police team – the Special Operations Force – is tasked to investigate the mess left behind.
In this squad, we meet futuristic versions of a lot of police procedural tropes – the rugged hero, the hardline veteran boss, the newbie – which helps us immediately get to know them, though this issue doesn’t dig much deeper than that. Nevertheless, it’s only a first issue, and there’s a lot of potential for the detectives of the SOF to become much more interesting characters.
The time spent with the criminal gang, recovering from their botched operation is more intriguing – Araújo sets up this odd bunch in a way that gets us wondering just what their motives are, and sympathising with their poor bullied techie.
But the real strength is the way these two parallel stories show off different environments; the sleek, futuristic tech of the police station contrasts sharply with the murky slums of the city’s residential areas. Araújo has put a lot of work into the design of Olissipo City, and into the look of Man: Plus as a whole – there are hints of Blade Runner and Metropolis in the dystopian cityscape, and of Akira in the cyberpunk violence, with the European setting lending a slice of originality. The precise line art allows the details, carefully layered into every scene to draw you in, and Arsia Rozegar’s colours build up a mood that’s grungy rather than flashy, all building this place up as a perfect setting to explore the very relevant themes of prejudice, hate crime and corporate power.
And that complex world building is the strength of Man: Plus – it’s at once familiar and original, fantastic and real, and easy to become absorbed in. Though it touches on intriguing themes, the story feels like it’s not yet hit its stride – nevertheless, Olissipo City will be well worth a return visit.
REVIEW: MAN: PLUS #1 / AUTHOR & ARTIST: ANDRÉ LIMA ARAÚJO / PUBLISHER: TITAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW