Osamu Tezuka's PHOENIX: A TALE OF THE FUTURE
Review by Dennis D. McDonald
The artwork is nowhere near the level of detail and sophistication present in the author’s Buddha graphic novel series, but the story’s scope is vast. It begins in the year 3404 when the human race is decaying. The periodic intervention of the mystical Phoenix is all that stands in the way of total physical collapse of the Earth.
The author’s inclusion of so many classic science fiction elements is almost breathtaking. The graphic novel format works to his advantage. Backstory is minimal, by definition, since the primary vehicle for forward motion in the story is graphic. But look at this list of components:
- far future end-of-time civilization
- decadent humanity
- underground cities built in the face of a blasted surface
- mad scientists living a solitary existence
- alien shape shifters persecuted by the ruling governments
- rebellious hero escapes city to the earth’s surface
- super computers running vast city states
- the end of humanity
The list goes on. The novel works because of its vast scope and original presentation, but compared with the stunning graphic detail of Buddha, Future is a bit of a disappointment. But I have to admit, too, feeling a bit nostalgic as I read it. I grew up with science fiction novels that frequently dealt with various elements of this story. Seeing so many present in one story - in agraphic novel, no less — is quite impressive, despite the shortcomings.
Review copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald