Iâ€™m not a big Mecha fan.Â Sure I like giant robots as much of the next guy, but Iâ€™m not one to spend hours and hours devouring everything in this sub-genre of pop culture.Â Freedom Formula from Radical Comics was a surprise arrival in my comic stash for the week, and was instantly drawn in with everything the first issue of the mini-series had to offer.
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In the far future the final war has ended thanks to humans who were genetically engineered to work in extreme velocity exo-suits.Â In order to keep the masses happy, these former warriors stage elaborate events as they race each other in some strange Death Race 2000 type event.
In addition to discovering our ultimate fate (in mega cities apparently), the reader is introduced to Zee, a Wasteland delivery boy, whoâ€™s heading to the big city of Petropolis to deliver a package as part of his fatherâ€™s dying request.Â Along the way, he gets involved with one of the race teams, ends up being kidnapped by gangs, and yes, meets the Rev – one of those genetically engineered warriors.
Itâ€™s an interesting look at one potential future, but it is nothing new.Â Weâ€™ve seen it all before in every other anti-utopia futuristic sci-fi tale; mega-cities, corporations running everything, wastelands everywhere except the mega-city, a hero rising up from the outcasts of society who will be the major player in some world changing event – you get the idea.
The first issue is a very fast read, mostly due to the very excellent page layouts that offer more than the standard 6 or 9 panel page.Â The opening pages actually draw us into the story as the panels start small and distant, eventually growing in size and skewing as the reader is made aware of the nature of society and the speed associated with these mega racers.Â Itâ€™s all very cool, but is ultimately ripped from the pages of Japanese Manga, Korean Manhwa, or other Southeast Asian comics.Â Even though it is a small company, it is great to see a U.S. publisher giving its artists a chance express themselves.Â Chester Ocampo and Kai have done an amazing job in the art of the issue.Â Iâ€™ve actually been a fan of Ocampoâ€™s work for several years, after finding him on the DeviantArt site, so seeing his work here is a treat.
Thereâ€™s not a lot of character development that happens in the first issue.Â We are introduced to numerous characters, who move in and out of the story without the reader knowing if this is a passing character or if s/he will appear again.Â It is obvious Zee is our central character, but Iâ€™m curious about the others.Â Is the girl Zee rescues and then leaves a reoccurring or potential love interest?Â I guess that is why it is a five issue mini-series instead of three.Â Thereâ€™s still plenty of story to tell.
Iâ€™ll admit the first issue draws the reader in with a great set up, but ultimately it is a lot of eye candy.Â This is not necessarily a bad thing, but itsâ€™ the substance the reader will desire most, and I think the issue is slightly lacking in that area.Â in the end, I did enjoy Radicalâ€™s take on the man/machine theme, and am interested in checking out the rest of the mini-series.Â If youâ€™re into manga, robots, and Mecha, then youâ€™ll get a kick out of Freedom Formula.Â Iâ€™m liking what I see and am giving Freedom Formula #1 3.5 out of 5 Stars.