Set in Peru, Manu follows Canela (or Lila) who lives alone in the Amazon rainforest with her cyborg jaguar and monkeys. (How cool is that?) Oh, and the monkey talks. Canela is a cyborg, as well, and on the day we meet her, she has a surprise visit by her lover and long-time friend Sonia. It is a pleasant surprise, but it reveals a darker and more insidious past. One called “Lima Roja.” Literally translated, it means red lime, but in this context, it refers to Lima, Peru, and I suspect it's the name of an apocalypse that hit the city. It haunts Canela, but she doesn’t have much time to dwell on it, as the sica-pokantis have found her. Traditionally garbed Peruvian warriors with cyborg implants, they attack but are slaughtered by her animals. Not knowing where else to go, Canela leaves for the city with Sonia where a possible greater threat awaits her.
I tend to prefer more natural and realistic art, but the bold colors and broad brush strokes definitely work for this comic. It is bold and visually interesting. The splash page where Canela has her flashback is terrific. It is also great to see a non-western take on cyberpunk. Many writers forget that a world exists out there beyond western culture.
The writing itself is solid, but a section about two-thirds in where there is a long-drawn out conversation with a visitor at Sonia’s place in the city. For me, it slowed the story down to a crawl and I think it could have been edited down. That time could have been spent delving more into the bad guys and giving us a better sense of the threat they posed.
The character designs at the end were a lot of fun, but I would have loved a glossary of the various non-English terms used. I’m a sucker for that type of information and I bet there are more people out there who’d like it as well.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the art. I look forward to seeing the next volume.
Creative Team: Gustaffo Vargas
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