Writer & Artist: Haruhisa Nakata
Publisher: Viz Media
List Price: $12.99
Levius /EST is a fast-paced sequel to Haruhisa Nakata’s original that quickly rehashes events of the first series while setting up for the epic battle that will determine the fate of the world.
One year has passed since the devastating mechanical martial arts (MMA) battle between Levius and A.J. Although Levius survived, he remains unconscious and in terrible pain. A.J. does not remember the events that led to the battle; and Zack, Levius’ mentor and uncle, has emerged from a coma to learn that the world has fallen into a free-for-all of the corporate powers-that-be and that “there is a possibility that the grade I ring will serve as a proxy battleground for world war.”
Realizing that control of the world rests on Levius’ young shoulders, Zack decides to jog A.J.’s memories. She is the only person who can bring Levius out of his current state. Wary of the destruction she caused under the control of Amethyst, a heavily guarded and remorseful A.J. visits Levius and provides researchers with the cure him. She rehabilitates under the tutelage of Zack and Bill, Levius’ engineer. When Levius regains his strength, he, Zack and A.J join their assigned gym and find an unexpected surprise waiting for them.
Nakata gives his apocalyptic nineteenth-century alternative history a lush and vibrant setting. Panel layouts are used to dramatic effect; two-page panels give action sequences a dynamic movement and epic scope, clearly drawn close-ups blending in to blurred and smeared shots. Smaller panels emphasize character development and reaction to surrounding action.
Character development feels vanilla compared to Nakata’s gorgeous and elaborately-constructed battles, but one is willing to forgive these minor flaws when considering Nakata’s inspired vision, which animates and makes the comic page pop with excitement.
Unlike the prestige format of the original Levius, Viz plans to release the sequel in bimonthly installments as a five-volume series starting on November 19. The first book makes heavy use of backstory to set the tone for upcoming issues. In a departure from its standard manga format. Levius /EST reads from left-to-right, a deliberate move by Nakata and Viz to pay homage to traditional European comics.
Levius /EST is a beautiful addition to the genre of steampunk comics, but to label it exclusively steampunk would be a grave injustice. It is violent and fearsome, but an inspiring, compelling and compulsive read.