Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Review: LEVIUS/est: Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

CARTONIST: Haruhisa Nakata
LETTERS: Joanna Estep
EDITOR: Joel Enos
ISBN: 978-1-9747-0639-6; paperback (November 2019); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
212pp, B&W with some color, $12.99 U.S., $17.99 CAN, £8.99 UK

Levius/est is a sequel to the manga, Levius, with both manga being the creation of manga artist, Haruhisa Nakata.  A currently ongoing series, Levius/est is published in the Japanese manga magazine, Ultra Jump.  VIZ Media is publishing an English-language edition of Levius/est as a series of graphic novels, and also published Levius in English as a single-volume hardcover omnibus edition.

Levius/est, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 5) opens in the 19th century.  The world has entered the “Era of Rebirth,” as it recovers  from a devastating war.  Seventeen-year-old Levius Cromwell, who lost his parents to war, is a fighter in the sport of mechanical martial arts (M.M.A.), which has galvanized the nations of the world.  Cybernetically augmented fighters turn their blood into steam and their bodies into brutal and sometimes monstrous fighting and killing machines.

Levius managed to become one of the “Grand Thirteen,” the 13 M.M.A. fighters in the sport's top level, “Grade I.”  However, Levius is currently in a coma, and his gravely injured uncle, Zack Cromell (his father's brother), is determined to save him.  To do so means engaging a dangerous young woman named A.J. Langdon, the fighter who caused Levius' injuries.

The Levius/est manga is a necessary sequel to the Levius manga.  After reading Levius, dear readers, it was clear to me that there was more story to be told.

Levius/est Graphic Novel Volume 1 is appropriate for high school age readers, as was the original, although both are classified with the adult seinen manga label.  Creator Haruhisa Nakata depicts some shockingly brutal fights in the original series, but here, he focuses on back story, flashbacks, and character relationships.  For instance, Nakata offers us the first look at the events that led to Levius' mother's grievous injuries, and he shows us a more detailed and different side of A.J. Langdon.

Nakata's art reminds me of the work of Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), and I expect this series will sometimes seem like a steampunk spin on Ghost in the Shell.  Nakata's art makes for effective graphical storytelling and is also eye-candy.

John Werry and Jason A. Hurley's work on the English script for Levius/est won't fail us, and Joanna Estep's lovely lettering is perfect for this series.  That is why I am recommending Levius/est.  There is so much potential here, both in terms of action and in terms of character drama.  Levius/est may be a sequel, but I don't think it will be a retread.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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