After reading and enjoying the first three volumes of Battle Angel Alita I had to test out the new series showcasing Alita’s time on Mars. The first volume shed light on Alita’s time as a baby on Mars and reminded readers that Alita has been dealing with war and battles for a very long time. I had to dip back into the series with volume two, but surprisingly the narrative dramatically dramatically 200 years into the future.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Two-hundred years in the future, Alita has returned to Mars to meet Erica. However, what should be a blissful reunion is anything but. A battle between two skilled practitioners of the Martian martial arts unfolds on the very grounds where their story began. Can Z.O.T.T. champion Alita best the prowess of Frau X?
Why does this matter?
This series is set to be the “final” chapter of Alita’s story. That means Yukito Kishiro is telling his final stories here, which expand on the character and reveal that she lived an even more complex life than we could have imagined.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This collection jumps ahead in time with Alita much older and now super talented at fighting. It opens with a familiar face, which helps connect it to the first volume although I was admittedly lost when things started off. The main narrative is all about a war on Mars involving zombie-like soldiers controlled by evil corporations. The first quarter has one heck of a fight scene with Alita utilizing her talking gun to full effect. Hell, she even beats the enemy down with her own arm (after it gets ripped off). The story ends up being quite a complex one–probably too much so–with queens, characters who have known Alita for the longest time, and backstabbing galore. Apparently the goings-on of Mars are rife with politics.
Kishiro’s art is very clean and easy to follow. The action is impressive with some spectacular explosions. There are also some fantastic environment pages (including some double-page spreads) and spaceships to help remind us we are a long way from Earth in 2018.
This collection ends with a special one-shot story by Hibotaka Tobi which won the award for best science fiction short story. This story is moving and well-drawn, and details a world frozen in time where a little boy is alone and one day meets a girl. There’s an explanation for this twisted, strange world and it harbors a sentiment about friendship that is touching.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The story jumping ahead makes this read like one long game of catch-up. Characters seem to give detailed exposition every few pages as if the author is well aware many readers won’t know what is going on. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to read the main series all the way through to make sense of what was going on, or to watch an anime, but it was frustrating to not know what was really going on. It’s also a bummer that the story jumps ahead like it does because volume one ended in an interesting way with Alita still very young and only just barely walking. The time jump skips all the training and hardships that got her to where she is, as if the creator wanted to write a story that’s more akin to the main series.
Is It Good?
The back-up is excellent and the first half has plenty of awesome Alita ass-kicking action which should please many. The problem is that the story jumps so far ahead you’ll feel lost (unless you’ve read and watched everything Alita…maybe) and the use of exposition every few pages makes the read drag.